Fort Wayne, IN - In much the same fashion as the earlier meeting between the IPFW Mastodons and Saint Francis (Pa.) Red Flash, the heated match went to the wire. But this time it was the Red Flash who prevailed, avenging an early season defeat in five sets, 27-30, 30-26, 28-30, 30-23, 11-15.
With a newly shuffled lineup, the 'Dons offensive attack posted a .327 hitting percentage as a team, thanks in large part to the play of freshman setter Elias Aparcedo. In just his second match in the lineup and first as a starter, the Chicago native posted an impressive 71 assists, a season high for IPFW's setter position.
His number one target, junior outside hitter Darryl Shank, also turned in one of his finest performances in the loss. Shank hit .357 overall and tallied 27 kills to lead the IPFW attack.
The duo of Aparcedo and Shank got the Mastodons off to a hot start in a first set which saw IPFW hit .406 as a team. A service ace by Elon Fyfield gave the 'Dons a 14-12 lead in the opening stanza. The Red Flash continued the offensive pressure and eventually took a four point lead at 22-18. After battling back to take a 25-24 lead on an Ivan Matos service ace, the Flash rattled off three straight points to take the 27-25 lead before cruising to the 30-27 first set victory.
Although the IPFW offense hit .406 as a team in the first set, the Saint Francis squad posted an eye-opening .630 attack percentage in the frame.
In a pattern that would soon become the norm, IPFW took control of the second set of a back-and-forth match. A service ace by Darryl Shank gave IPFW a 6-4 lead that the squad would not surrender again. IPFW pushed their lead to 20-17 with a huge block by Aparcedo and senior Oliver Kook, who posted a team-high eight block assists in the match. The 'Dons pushed forward, eventually taking a set-point serve at 29-25 and, after a Red Flash kill, closed out the second set 30-26.
Until deep into the set, it looked as if the third stanza would settle in much the same way. IPFW took a 5-4 lead and ran with it, pushing it to as many as four at 18-14. The Red Flash stormed back, eventually tying the match at 19 before building a steady three point lead. A late IPFW charge cut the Saint Francis lead to 29-28 but a kill from big hitter Jordan Varee closed the third set in favor of the Flash, 30-28.
In what had become a seesaw match up to this point, it seemed only fitting that IPFW would take advantage trailing 2-1. Simply put, the fourth set was all Mastodons. A Red Flash attack error on the first point of the game gave the 'Dons the light they needed, taking the smallest of leads. That lead wouldn't evaporate throughout the set as the 'Dons built their lead to as many as six at 24-18 before slamming the door on a convincing 30-23 fourth set win.
As a team, IPFW hit just .256, but sound defense and a frontline led by Oliver Kook's solo block and pair of assists limited Saint Francis to just a hitting percentage of just .071.
The fifth set swung back in favor of the Red Flash. They took a lead their final lead at 2-1 in the set, growing their advantage to as many as five at 9-4 in the short set before they slammed the door on a 15-11 match-clinching victory.
IPFW's offense was led by Shank's 27 kills. Elon Fyfield followed with 13 and Oliver Kook and Ivan Matos each posted 12 to round out the double-figure 'Dons. Aparcedo posted 71 assists to lead the offense while Shaun Dryden's 14 digs and Kook's eight block assists led the defensive attack.
The loss drops the 'Dons to 9-16 overall as they remain 2-8 in MIVA action. Saint Francis will travel to Muncie at 12-12, for a 7:30 matchup with the Ball state Cardinals.
IPFW is back in action tomorrow night as they host King College (Tenn.). First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Hilliard Gates Sports Center in Fort Wayne.