Kingsmen Cap Off Cal-Lu-Fornia Classic with Wins Against Johnson & Wales and Rivier

(Left to Right) Dasmen Stewart and Brendan Ward combine for a block.
(Left to Right) Dasmen Stewart and Brendan Ward combine for a block.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.— The Cal Lutheran men's volleyball team capped off the Cal-Lu-Fornia Classic by defeating Johnson & Wales (25-15, 25-21, 25-19) and then Rivier (25-18, 18-25, 25-15, 25-18) on Saturday in Gilbert Arena.

The Kingsmen were an impressive 5-0 during the classic which stretched from Wednesday through Saturday. The win over Rivier was huge as the Raiders had previously beaten No. 1 Springfield on Feb. 26. Cal Lutheran improved to 7-2 at home and is now 9-7 on the season.  

The nightcap on Saturday featured the two unbeaten teams at the classic, Cal Lutheran and Rivier. The teams the split the first two sets with CLU winning the first and RU winning the second. The match was up for grabs in the third set and it was Cal Lutheran that made the move. The Kingsmen jumped out to an 8-1 lead and never looked back as they won the third set 25-15. They carried that momentum in to the fourth set and didn't let the Raiders back in the match as they won the fourth set 25-18 and the match 3-1. 

Mason Mercer led the Kingsmen with 15 kills and recorded a .565 attack percentage. Two more Kingsmen tallied double-digit kills as Andrew Reina and Patrick Rowe both added 10. Grant Nelson and Alec Bennett kept the offense flowing as the setters dished out 27 and 16 assists, respectively. Defensively, Brendan Ward recorded eight total blocks, two of which were solo. Cal Lutheran's defense was everywhere as Reina recorded eight digs and libero's Eli Moore and Marc Quezada both added seven apiece. 

The Kingsmen were on fire and combined for a .337 hitting percentage while holding the Raiders to a .142 clip. CLU served eight aces, as Ward and Reina both tallied three, and Rivier could only muster three. 

In the first match of the day, CLU took on Johnson & Wales (R.I.). The Kingsmen were all over the Wildcats from the get-go and doubled them up at 10-5 in the first set. Cal Lutheran continued to put distance in between themselves and JWU and won easily 25-15. Johnson & Wales kept the next two sets closer (25-21 and 25-19), but the Wildcats could not steal a set as the Kingsmen swept the match. 

Rowe was the high-man with 15 kills and Reina added 10 more. Bennett served two aces to go along with 10 assists and Nelson contributed 21 assists. Rowe was big defensively and recorded nine digs and Justin Dietrich was huge at the net and sent back five attacks. 

The Kingsmen have one more game before hitting the road. Cal Lutheran host Endicott on Tuesday, March 19, at 7 p.m. 

Interview with Grant Nelson, Mason Mercer, and Brendan Ward:

Box Score: CLU 3, JWU 0CLU 3, RU 1
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Release by Ryan Jorgenson, Sports Information Director