Men’s Volleyball opens season with split on first day of UHSP HOA Challenge

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Kansas Wesleyan Men’s Volleyball opened its 2024 season on Friday, splitting a pair of matches in the Heart of America Challenge, hosted by University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy.The Coyotes dropped a 5-set match to host UHSP – 25-23, 26-24, 18-25, 25-27, 10-15, but then bounced back in the second match to sweep Graceland 25-17, 25-16, 25-18.In the first set with UHSP the Coyotes fought off every challenge the Eutectics brought, holding on for a 25-23 win in the opening set.In the second set, KWU led 13-12, but UHSP scored four straight to take a 15-13 lead. KWU came back and tied it 15-15 and the Coyotes later grabbed a 19-18 lead. KWU was on the cusp of taking the set at 23-21, but three straight by UHSP gave the Eutectics set point. After a timeout, Viet Nguyen put down a kill as KWU rattled off the last three points of the set to take a 2-0 lead.UHSP took a 4-1 lead to start the third, and USHP broke a 10-10 tie with a 6-0 run to lead 16-10. The Coyotes just couldn’t catch up in the set falling 25-18.The Coyotes were quick out of the gates in the fourth taking an 8-1 lead, but UHSP scored six of the next seven points to get within two at 9-7. KWU led 15-11 when the Coyotes scored four of the next five to take a 19-12 lead. After a UHSP timeout, the Eutectics scored nine straight points to take a 21-19 lead. KWU battled back and tied it at 24-all and then again at 25, before UHSP scored the final two points to force a fifth set.UHSP took a 10-3 lead in the fifth, and the Coyotes couldn’t recover falling 15-10.Newcome Zayin Martinez led the Coyotes with 26 kills, setting a new school record for kills in a match. Tyler McUne also set a new school record with 58 assists in the match. The Coyotes hit .240 for the match as a team. Nguyen added 15 kills and Justin Burras had nine.The Coyotes then faced Graceland in the next match and came away with the straight-set sweep.It was 9-8 Coyotes in the first set when KWU broke it open scoring six of the next seven to take a 15-9 lead. Graceland made it close toward the end of the set at 19-16, but five straight and six of the last seven in favor of the Coyotes gave KWU the first set.The Coyotes raced out to a 10-3 lead in the second set and later led 20-11 before coming away with the 25-16 win.KWU trailed 7-5 in the third set but rattled off five straight to take a 10-7 lead. The Coyotes extended the lead to 21-13 before closing out the match 25-18.Burras had eight kills to lead the Coyotes while Nguyen had six. KWU ran a 6-2 offense in the match as Angel Diaz had 12 assists and McUne had 15. Jeremy Lapeze had seven digs.KWU continues play in the HOA Challenge on Saturday with a match against Missouri Baptist at Noon, and against Culver-Stockton at 2 p.m.