The Illinois Tech Men’s Volleyball team held a double header against Robert Morris-Chicago and Loras on February 2 at Keating Sports Center. The Robert Morris Eagles defeated the Scarlet Hawks in the first match 3-0 and the Loras Duhawks, after a nearly record-breaking first set, eventually topped Illinois Tech 3-1 in the second matchup of the double-header.
How it Happened – RMUC Match
- The match was highly competitive. Both teams traded the lead and held slim margins throughout. Nick Spallina and Scott Poppen led the way for Robert Morris with four and three kills respectively while Bobby Ying added 13 assists. Illinois Tech’s Lukasz Kupiec kept the Scarlet Hawks close all the while with three kills and some veteran leadership, but ultimately the Eagles were able to go on a 6-4 run to close out the first set, 25-21.
- Service errors plagued the Scarlet Hawks in the second set. Despite a .270 attack percentage as a team, 12 service errors cost the Hawks in key spots and allowed Robert Morris to remain in the game. Andriy Bench added five kills in the set but the veteran Eagles squad made a slow comeback, capitalizing on Scarlet Hawk mistakes and taking the close second set 25-23.
- The Scarlet Hawks came to play in the third set, getting out to a 7-3 lead early, fueled by the great serving of Cinjun Coe. He added five kills throughout the set and kept Illinois Tech in front until the Eagles eventually regained the lead at 17-16. More service errors hurt the Hawks’ chances while the Eagles’ Poppen stepped up at the net and behind the service line. The score swayed back and forth between both teams but eventually went the Eagles way, as Robert Morris took the set and match with a 25-22.
Scarlet Hawk Standouts
- Coe led the Scarlet Hawks with 13 kills, two service aces and six digs.
- Kupiec tallied nine kills, an assist, and six digs.
- Bench also added nine kills on a .412 attack percentage with an ace.
Stats to Know
- Robert Morris finished with a team .293 attack percentage to Illinois Tech’s .281.
- Illinois Tech had the advantage in kills 43-37.
- The Eagles had six team blocks to the Hawks’ four.
- Illinois Tech had more assists (36-32).
How it Happened – Loras Match
- The first set began like any other. Illinois Tech remained competitive and kept the score close, exchanging the lead with the Duhawks. The score was tied at 18 down the stretch and both teams committed errors to force the set to a 25-25 tie. Then, things changed. Illinois Tech elevated the level of play to match the streaking Loras attack and neither team could gain the two-point advantage needed to secure the win. Loras’ Greg Kinney recorded eight kills in the first set followed by Dylan Ross who had six. The Scarlet Hawks were led by Kupiec—who had 10 kills—and Coe who added five more. Evan Robeck and Easton Kays were also pivotal for the Scarlet Hawks with a combined six kills in the first set, most of which took place after the 25-25 tie. The set continued past 30, 35 and 40 points and neither team backed down in terms of effort and execution. After an injury timeout at a 40-40 tie, the Duhawks finally gained a one-point advantage followed by a Kinney kill to take the fantastic first set 44-42. This set nearly set a record for the longest in NCAA Men’s Volleyball history, narrowly missing the final score of New Jersey City University vs. Philadelphia Bible on March 29, 2005—in which the set went to 45-43.
- After the chaotic first set, both teams continued the strong play to begin the second. Illinois Tech held the lead by as much as three until the Duhawks were able to tie the game at 10. Once again the two teams exchanged the lead until the final stretch of the set when the Duhawks—once again fueled by Kinney and Ross, who both had five kills in the second set—ran away with a win 25-19.
- Illinois Tech fell behind quickly in the third set, as it appeared the team was running out of energy. But Coe sparked the Scarlet Hawks with four kills and some strong serves. Freshman Daniel Throop also emerged as a key player for the Scarlet Hawks with 10 assists and consistent serves as well. The Scarlet Hawks fell down 20-17 before calling a key timeout. After that, Illinois Tech rallied back and kept the score close all the way until 24-24. This time, the Scarlet Hawks were prepared for a close finish to the end of the set and shut down the Duhawks for two quick points to take the set 26-24.
- After a long day of competition, fatigue began to catch up with the Scarlet Hawks, who nonetheless battled throughout the duration of the fourth set. As a team, the Scarlet Hawks managed eight kills in the last set but still committed three more service errors throughout. Illinois Tech could not manage to grab the lead during the fourth set and Kinney and Ross—who finished with 21 and 17 kills, respectively—closed the door on any last chance for a fifth set. Loras won the set and the match after a 25-20 win.
Scarlet Hawk Standouts
- Kupiec led the way with 18 kills (on a .265 attack percentage). He added nine digs and an ace.
- Coe had 15 kills, 11 digs plus two total blocks.
- Robeck finished with 10 kills and four block assists.
- Kays added nine kills on a co-team leading .316 attack percentage.
Stats to Know
- The first set was one of the longest in NCAA men’s volleyball history and the longest in Illinois Tech men’s volleyball history. There were a combined 45 kills and 10.5 blocks in the first set alone.
- The Duhawks finished with 65 kills to Illinois Tech’s 56.
- Loras held a slight edge in team attack percentage (.220 to .196).
- Illinois Tech trailed in total team blocks 13.5 to eight.
- Illinois Tech will be off until Friday, February 9 when the team will travel to Olivet for a 6 p.m. matchup in Michigan.