Fort Wayne, IN - Led by Darryl Shank's 27 kills, the IPFW Mastodons breezed past the King College Tornado in four sets, 30-25, 30-24, 26-30, 30-23.
Shank tallied 27 kills for the second time in as many nights, posting a .438 hitting percentage in the win. But Shank's statline wasn't the only impressive individual performance of the night for IPFW. Teammates Elon Fyfield (17 kills, .433 hitting pct.) and Oliver Kook (13 kills, .500 hitting pct.) helped lead a top heavy offense that saw five player hit negative hitting percentages.
Shank, Fyfield and Kook took control of the match early, combining for 13 of the team's 30 kills in the opening set. Back-to-back blocks gave IPFW an early 8-3 lead. They were able to hang on to the lead, weathering a brief Tornado charge that cut the lead to 21-20. The 'Dons rattled off five of the next seven points to take a 26-22 lead before sealing the opening frame at 30-25.
The 'Dons were able to carry that momentum into the second set as an Anthony Randolph near-miss turned service ace gave IPFW the early 3-1 lead. King knotted the match at nine each before the 'Dons went on a 7-1 run to take a commanding 16-10 lead. That lead eventually grew to as many as eight at 26-18 before a Tornado attack error found the net to give IPFW a two-set lead with a 30-24 victory.
Again, it was the trio of Shank, Fyfield and Kook that carried the IPFW offense, as they combined for 14 of the team's 15 kills. As a team, the 'Dons hit .407 in the second set.
The momentum didn't flow into the third, though as King took advantage of a sluggish IPFW squad. They jumped out to an early 14-9 lead and never looked back. A service ace by Shank cut the lead to two at 20-18, but five straight blocks by King took the wind out of the 'Dons' sails as King closed the door on a 25-18 lead for a 30-26.
With the offense sputtering, the 'Dons turned where they had all season - Darryl Shank. The junior, currently ranked ninth in the NCAA in kills per set, posted kills on eight of 12 attacks, willing the squad to victory. Shank's kill gave IPFW a commanding 16-11 lead. A service ace by Dan Mader pushed the lead to 20-13 and that lead continued to grow, reaching as many as ten at 24-14 before the 'Dons closed the match victory with a 30-23 win.
Setter Dan Mader posted 59 assists to lead the offense and junior libero Shaun Dryden posted a team-best six digs.
The win moves IPFW to 10-16 overall as they remain 2-8 in MIVA play. King falls to 13-7 with the loss.
IPFW will return to action next weekend as they travel to Quincy, Ill. for a pair of key MIVA matchups with the Quincy Hawks. Friday's (Apr. 16) match is scheduled for a 7 p.m. first serve.