Men’s volleyball ended last Friday with a loss to ninth-ranked Lourdes University 3-0 in the conference tournament semifinals.It was the first time the team played in the conference tournament. This is despite a shake up at the head coaching spot, as Jim Daugherty was placed on administrative leave from the team on March 8 and resigned on March 29, as reported by the Goshen News.
Despite all the season’s turmoil, the team finished 15-9 overall and third in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference with a 7-5 conference mark and were ranked for the first time, reaching as high as 14th in the country.
“I think we had a very successful season,” said senior setter Michael Wahl. “Even though it didn’t end the way we wanted, we still improved greatly with the many challenges we faced this year. I think most, if not all, of us were just happy we got the chance to play the sport we love considering many across the country didn’t.”
In the last match of the regular season Goshen College beat Cornerstone University 3-1 (27-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-8) behind strong play from a trio of juniors in Lucas Sauder, Alex Rabadzhiev and Ian Fox, along with senior Elias Baer.
Cornerstone jumped out early and got enough plays late to take set one. In the second, after being tied at 13 all, Goshen went on a 6-0 run and didn’t look back. In set three the Leafs took the lead at 10-9 and while GC never led by more than three the rest of the set, they also never gave up the lead. For the final set, GC was buoyed by three separate 5-0 runs.
In the conference tournament against Lourdes, the Maple Leafs battled back and forth through the first set and even climbed back into the set late after a 6-0 run by the Gray Wolves put them up 18-11.
Lourdes would go on to win the set 25-22. The Gray Wolves would take the next two sets and end GC’s season. In the second, Lourdes climbed out to a 21-13 lead, before GC went on a 4-0 run to make 21-16, but the Gray Wolves responded by taking four of the last five points to win the set 25-17.
In the final set, two 4-0 runs by Lourdes proved to be the difference in the match as they completed the match sweep with a 25-17 set win.
Lourdes went on to defeat Indiana Tech 3-1 (25-19, 25-22, 31-29, 25-16) to win the conference championship.
“It was an eventful season as the whole team had to go through many changes that were not necessarily helpful to the team,” said Rabadzhiev. “However, I am very glad we were able to compete especially in the midst of a pandemic. Before the start of the season, I expected many games to be canceled or rescheduled so I never took anything for granted. It was a season with many ups and downs and we have a lot of work to do over the next five to six months in order to prepare for the next season.”
The Maple Leafs still have a outside chance to compete in the national tournament, although the likelihood is slim. They will know whether or not they will be playing in Des Moines, Iowa on Sunday, April 11.