Phoenix, AZ - IPFW Head Coach Arnie Ball picked
up win number 498 of his career, as the Mastodons completed a
series sweep of MIVA foe Grand Canyon, 25-21, 25-19, 22-25,
As a team, the 'Dons survived an ugly statistical evening that saw a combined 29 service errors and 49 attack miscues. Leading the offense was senior Darryl Shank. Shank posted 17 kills on a .282 attack percentage while freshman Eddie Rivera continued his recent hot streak with 15 markers on a .323 clip. Ivan Matos followed with an efficient 10 kills on 17 attacks.
A four-point rally in the opening set saw the Mastodons take a commanding 9-4 advantage early. That lead would hold throughout the set, as the 'Lopes could only manage to pull the score to within three, before falling to the 'Dons in a quick opening set, 25-21.
The Mastodon momentum would swing into the second frame as well, as the serve of Adam Quinn gave IPFW an 8-0 start. That early lead would never shrink smaller than six as, once again, the Mastodons cruised to a quick set victory, 25-19.
Set number three played out with a different tune. Neck-and-neck in the early going, the 'Lopes opened up a three-point lead at 11-8. Battling back to even at 15-15, the Mastodons could not catch a break, failing to take a lead despite a number of tie scores. A kill by Jordon Tarantino gave Grand Canyon a 22-20 lead and the 'Lopes were able to maintain their lead, as a Ben Hunt kill closed out a third-set GCU win, 25-22.
In the fourth, and what would prove to be final, set, the Mastodons got a dogfight from the host Antelopes. Despite falling behind early 11-8, the 'Lopes never fully snagged the momentum. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back kills by Darryl Shank gave IPFW an 18-17 lead, their first since the 6-5 mark. From there, the two sides began trading points.
A kill by Darryl Shank gave the Mastodons an match-point opportunity, only to fall short after a Grand Canyon kill. The 'Dons would have two more match-point serves, falling short in both before Ivan Matos' kill pushed the score to 28-27. Eddie Rivera landed a kill on the next play to close out the set and match, 29-27.
Leading the IPFW defense was Corey Frain's eight total blocks and Adam Quinn and Garrett Bitter each posted eight digs to lead the squad.
The Mastodons return to action next Friday (Mar. 18) as they travel to Loretto, Pa. for a showdown with the St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash before a Sunday matchup with the Penn State Nittany Lions. First serve of both matches is slated for 7 p.m.