Muskies finish second against elite competition
Athletics - posted on 2/22/2009
The No. 15 Lakeland men's volleyball team compiled a 7-1 record on its way to an impressive runner-up finish at the Hoosier-Illini Classic in Bloomington, Ind., on Saturday and Sunday.
The Muskies (16-3) entered the Gold (Championship) Bracket after winning their first five matches. The hot start was highlighted by a 25-19, 25-22 victory on Saturday over No. 3 Illinois, which the Muskies defeated last season in the national championship match.
"We've never played this well at this tournament, and it started with the Illinois match," Lakeland coach Chad Schreiber said. "We played out of our minds, and had a chance to win it in the end."
In the quarterfinals, Lakeland needed three sets to knock off No. 12 Navy 25-21, 23-25, 15-12. The Muskies then defeated No. 10 Ohio State 25-19, 25-21 in the semifinals, setting up a match against Missouri, which had defeated UW-Oshkosh, the nation's No. 1 team, in the other semifinal.
Lakeland gave the Tigers all they could handle, but fell just short, dropping a 22-25, 27-25, 15-13 decision.
"We ran into a very good Missouri team," Schreiber said. "After the first set, we looked a little tired from the long weekend, and they made a couple more plays than we did."
Prior to their win over Illinois on Saturday, the Muskies defeated defending NIRSA Division III national champion DuPage (25-23, 25-18), Air Force (25-19, 25-23) and No. 23 SUNY-Buffalo (25-17, 26-28, 18-16) in pool play.
Lakeland defeated 28th-ranked Northern Illinois 25-16, 25-8 in its first match on Sunday, prior to entering bracket play.
"We finally played good volleyball this weekend after not playing very well in a few home matches," Schreiber said. "If we can keep playing this way, it will be another fun year with this group."
A total of 14 teams ranked in the nation's top 30 by the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation competed in the 32-team tournament.
Lakeland returns to action next Saturday, Feb. 28, for the season's second Midwest 10 Play Date. The tournament will be hosted by Marquette University in Milwaukee. Match times are to be announced.
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