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The Lakeland College men's volleyball team moved within range of the program's first national title, as the Muskies won all five of their matches on Thursday and Friday, Apr. 12 and 13, to earn their way into Saturday's Gold Bracket at the NIRSA National Tournament in Louisville, Ky.
In pool play on Thursday, the Muskies (45-7) had a bit of a rocky start in their first match of the tournament against University of Colorado, dropping game one, 25-23. However, the squad was able to quickly bounce back to claim the remaining two games, defeating Boston University (25-17, 25-21) and San Jose (25-16, 25-18) to advance into Friday's Championship Pool.
The squad's junior middle hitters, Jared Rohland and Avdo Omerbegovic, helped the Muskies achieve this feat, leading the offensive charge in nearly all three matches. Rohland guided the team over Boston with eight kills, while Omerbegovic tallied seven kils and three blocks. Omerbegovic went on to tie with sophomore outside hitter Joe Julkowski for offensive leader against San Jose, as both tallied six kills while Julkowski also chipped in five digs and three blocks.
Lakeland had a similar start in their first match on Friday against Northeastern University as they did against University of Colorado, as the team dropped game one, 25-20. However, the squad was once again able to play steadily throughout the rest of the tight match to win the second and third games, 25-21, 15-10, respectively.
The Muskies were also able to use that close match as fuel for their second match of the day, as the squad flattened University of Texas, 2-0 (25-13, 25-8), to remain undefeated in the tournament so far.
After a quiet first day, senior go-to outside hitter Matt Martin helped lead the squad to victory with a team-high eight kills and seven digs over Northeastern and tied Rohland with six kills against Texas. Julkowski also contributed with seven kills and five digs against Northeastern.
Lakeland will continue match play at the NIRSA National Tournament on Saturday, Apr. 14, first facing Virginia Tech in the opening round of the Gold Bracket. Match time is set for 11:45 a.m.