LEBANON, Ill. - Behind a stat-stuffing performance from Frederico Santos on Wednesday (Feb. 7), the No. 14 Fort Wayne men's volleyball team outlasted McKendree 3-2 (28-30, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-13) in the Statham Sports Center.
McKendree took the first two sets, despite the 'Dons holding close throughout the entire first. The Bearcats hit .385 and .333 in the first two sets, even though Fort Wayne had six team blocks. Four straight blocks brought the Mastodons to a 17-17 stymie, but Fort Wayne never led in the second set.
After falling behind 2-0, Fort Wayne kicked it into high gear and rattled off the final three sets. The third set lead got as large as five for the Mastodons after a block from Santos. McKendree brought it within one after going on a 4-1 run, but the Mastodons responded with a 4-1 run of their own.
The early going of the fourth set was in the Mastodons' favor with four straight Fort Wayne points to open up a 4-2 lead. The Bearcats had four straight in response, and the set was back-and-forth until a 14-13 McKendree edge. The Bearcats had a 6-2 run before the Mastodons had four straight. Four of the final five points of the set went to the Mastodons, which was capped off by a service ace from Austin Neace, who came off the bench as a service sub.
In the final set, Fort Wayne took a 9-6 lead before McKendree went on a 6-1 run to lead 12-10. The Mastodons took five of the last six points to complete the comeback. Santos had one of his four solo blocks for the final point, giving the 'Dons the win. The 'Dons held McKendree to .100, .133 and .069 hitting in the final three sets of the night.
Santos ended the night with 43 assists, 10 digs and six blocks, earning his first career double-double after coming off the bench in set two. Tony Price also added a double-double behind 10 kills and 10 digs. Colton Stone and Pelegrin Vargas had 19 and 18 kills respectively and eight digs each. Tomas Gago had a career-high 10 kills on 18 swings with an error, earning a .500 percentage.
As a team, Fort Wayne had 19.5 blocks, which is the most since 2006, when the 'Dons had 23.5 at Ball State. Gago matched his career-high eight, Santos earned six, Richie Diedrich added seven, Vargas had six and Price had four.
This was Fort Wayne's first-ever win at McKendree, taking a 4-3 lead for the series. Fort Wayne improves to 9-1, 1-0 MIVA, while McKendree falls to 3-6, 1-1 MIVA. The Mastodons will travel to No. 5 Ohio State on Saturday (Feb. 10) to face the Buckeyes at 7 p.m.