Men's Volleyball: Raiders Defeat Wittenberg in Five Set Thriller

Sam Matonis (Photo by: Harouna Ndongo)
Sam Matonis (Photo by: Harouna Ndongo)

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - The Mount Union men's volleyball team defeated Wittenberg in five sets, 25-14, 25-21, 25-17, 25-21, 15-11 Tuesday evening at the HPER Center.

The Purple Raiders (8-1) were led offensively by junior Justin Sibbel (Stow / Stow-Munroe Falls) with 21 kills and sophomore Jeremy Leyden (Cuyahoga Falls / Akron Hoban) with 49 assists. Defending Mount Union territory was sophomore Sam Matonis (Macedonia / Walsh Jesuit) with a season-high four blocks and sophomore Steven Grenier (Hawthorn Woods, Ill. / Lake Zurich) recording 22 digs. 

Jackson Tyler paced the Tigers (5-10) with a game-high 22 kills.

Mount Union opened the first set with 10-3 lead. Wittenberg fought back going a 4-1 run to cut the lead to three 10-7, but Raiders only allowed the Tigers to score seven more points winning set 25-14.

The Raiders grabbed a 5-1 lead to start the second set. Wittenberg retaliated to bring the score within two, 16-14, but Mount Union continued to extend their lead and win the set 25-21 with kills from sophomore Mark Bruns (Columbus / Upper Arlington), freshman Chris Wikar (Clarence, N.Y. / Clarence Senior), and Sibbel. 

The Tiger took their first lead of the match 4-1 to begin the third set. The Raiders rallied with a 5-3 surge to bring the score within one, but Wittenberg continued to widen its lead 17-12. Mount Union couldn't overcome the deficit losing the set 25-17.

After three ties and four lead changes, the Tiger finally took control of the fourth set 5-3. Three straight kills from Bruns and freshman Andrew Cross (St. Louis, Mo. / St. Louis University High) put the Raiders back on top 12-11. With five more ties and five lead changes, Wittenberg claimed the set 25-21 forcing a fifth set.

In the fifth and final set, Sibbel recorded back-to-back kills to give Mount Union the early 2-0 lead. The Tiger responded with 7-5 run tying the set up at 7-7. Sibbel, Bruns, and Cross secured the 15-11 set and match win for the Raiders.

Mount Union returns home for their first conference game of the season Friday, Feb. 21 hosting Olivet (Mich.) at 7 p.m.