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The Lakeland College men's volleyball team took second place at the MIVA Championships held at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., on Mar. 31 and Apr 1, finishing with a 6-2 record and improving on last season's disappointing ninth place finish.
The Muskies' (34-7) only losses of the tournament came at the hands of Illinois, the first a 2-0 (25-17, 25-20) loss in pool play on Saturday and the second in the championship match on Sunday, 2-0 (25-18, 26-24). The Fighting Illini are now responsible for three of the squad's seven match losses this season.
"We played great volleyball this weekend and had a lot of fun as a team, said head coach Chad Schreiber. "The only match we played poorly in was the first match-up with Illinois. We were missing the intensity, focus, and court presence we need to win."
Despite the pair of losses to Illinois, Lakeland plowed through every other team they faced throughout the weekend, knocking out a strong Purdue squad, 2-0 (25-18, 25-15) in the first playoff game of the Gold bracket on Sunday, and defeating tournament host Michigan State, 2-0 (25-19, 25-22), in the second playoff match. The squad also tallied another pair of 2-0 wins to round out pool play on Saturday, defeating Grand Valley (25-15, 25-19) and Western Michigan (25-22, 25-19).
Against Purdue, junior middle hitter Avdo Omerbegovic led the offense with six kills and added two blocks and two digs, while junior right side hitter Andrew Lietz came off the bench to tally four kills and two blocks. Senior outside hitter Matt Martin topped the kills column against Michigan State with 10 and also added five digs to his stat line while sophomore outside hitter Joe Julkowski chipped in six kills and four digs.
Lakeland also took out UW-Madison in both pool play, 2-0 (25-12, 25-15), and in the tournament semifinals, 2-0 (25-21, 25-20), to earn its spot in the championship match with Illinois.
Martin was once again instrumental in those wins, tallying a combined 23 kills and 13 digs, while Rohland boosted the scoring drive in the first game with six kills and added five blocks. Sophomore setter Joe Sanabria also contributed in the second game against the Badgers with 16 assists and four digs.
In Sunday's championship match loss to Illinois, Omerbegovic was the offensive leader with eight kills, followed by Rohland with six. Both also tallied a pair of blocks in the match.
"The loss in the championship match to Illinois was just a matter of them outplaying us," Schreiber said. "Talent-wise we are pretty close, but they've played a bit better each time. Along the way it was significant to beat Michigan State on their home floor, take out Wisconsin twice, and hold off a Purdue team playing real well. I like what our guys are accomplishing this year and hope there are still more good things to come."
The Muskies will return to Wisconsin Volleyball Conference action one final time this weekend, as they host the WVC Tournament on Apr. 6-7. Match times TBA.