UC MERCED – The University of California, Merced men’s volleyball team split their two matches in day one of the Missouri Valley College Tournament Friday afternoon.
In match one of the day, Cole Smith did everything he could to match the nation’s kills leader. While he ultimately came short of the astounding 40 kills Daniel Jacobs would put up, Smith was happy to put up 19 kills, but also walk away with the 3-1 victory over Ottawa University.
Smith had his 19 kills on a very efficient .405 hitting percentage. He wasn’t the only Bobcat who brought his A-game in match one. Matthew Lostetterhad a strong 13 kills in the victory, also adding a team-high eight digs, whileMatt Pelfini had his best passing match of the year, recording a career-high 47 assists.
Samuel Hala’ufia brought the pain defensively, recording a massive eight block assists and two solo-blocks to go along with seven kills of his own.
The Bobcats dropped set one 29-27, but were able to regain the momentum in set two, and ultimately maintain it throughout the match. UC Merced rallied in set two 25-20, then closed the match out 25-19 and 25-21 to take it in four sets.
UC Merced hit a very efficient .352 in the first match victory, recording only 15 errors on 122 attacks.
Match two pitted UC Merced against Briar Cliff University.
The Bobcats fought valiantly, but they were never able to rediscover the momentum they had in match one, falling 3-0.
Smith again led the way, but with just ten kills this time around. After recording seven kills in match one, Hala’ufia went one better in match two, recording eight kills on a .462 hit percentage.
Although the final score read 3-0, UC Merced were never truly out of the match until the final whistle. The Bobcats fell 25-21 and 25-20 in sets one and two, then forced extra points in what would ultimately be the final set. Unfortunately that one would end 29-27 in favor of Briar Cliff.
After a very impressive .352 hitting percentage in match one, UC Merced fell to a more pedestrian .139 hitting percentage in match two.
The Bobcats will play another pair of matches Saturday, taking on Park University at noon Pacific Time, then Clarke University at 4:00 PM.