Published on February 18th, 2013 | by Kevin Ryan0
Flyers Turn it up in MIVA Play: Friend Believes Flyers Still Haven’t Hit Their Stride
Above photo by Steve Woltmann: On Feb.3 sophomore Eric Fitterer led the Flyers to a 3-2 victory over Grand Canyon University. Fitterer had 21 kills and seven digs.
Kevin Ryan, Sports Editor
To open the 2013 season, the men’s volleyball team’s schedule was favorable, to say the least.
To start their season, the Flyers first flew out to Southern California and then turned around and flew to the East Coast to play at Penn State. After a couple of home matches, Lewis found themselves back on a plane to Phoenix to open up their Midwestern Incollegiate Volleyball Association schedule against Grand Canyon University.
“It was kind of grueling,” head coach Dan Friend said about the long trip. “We’ve already been on a couple of road trips like that, and I think it was preparing us to open up conference. I think the guys felt prepared going on a road trip and opening up conference play.”
The No. 15 Flyers showed that they were prepared in their first night out in the desert as they beat the Antelopes 3-1 (25-19, 25-22, 21-25, 25-14).
With being up 2-1 after three sets, the Flyers jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the fourth game with the help of three Grand Canyon attack errors. Lewis then added on to their lead going up 13-6, with sophomore Eric Fitterer recording three kills during the run. Sophomore James Hofmann, senior Jay Petty and Fitterer had a triple block to end the match and give the Flyers their first conference victory this year.
“Friday night (Feb.1), we played well,” Friend said. “We went out there and did some nice things. We’re slowly getting better offensively, and that was really good to see. The guys kind of put it together and put them away in four, so it was definitely a great conference win.”
Two days later, the Flyers were able to pull out another win against the Antelopes, but this time, they had to do it after being down 0-2.
“I think what you saw there was a Sunday afternoon game,” Friend said. “We weren’t quite getting ready to go. We weren’t into it the first couple of games, and all of a sudden, our backs are against the wall.”
Lewis got things together in the third set by going up 11-4, but Grand Canyon fought their way back, making it a two-point game by being down 13-11. Knowing a three-set sweep was possible, the Flyers went on a 12-8 run of their own, and they won the set 25-19, avoiding the sweep.
The fourth set was another close game. With it being tied at 20-all, Fitterer gave the Flyers a one-point lead with a kill, and eventually tallied three more to win the set at 25-23 and tie the match at 2-2.
Lewis proved they had all the momentum on their side in the fifth set as they gained a 10-1 advantage and went on to win the set 15-6 and the match 3-2, with Fitterer having the final kill.
After seeing Fitterer play extremely well these past two weeks, Friend said, “I think what you have seen is us be down a man and Fit have an opportunity and capitalize from it. He trained last year hard and trained in the offseason to put himself in that position, and you’ve seen him steadily get better, better and better as the season (has) gone on.”
After having the next four days off, Lewis welcomed Lindenwood University to Neil Carey Arena Feb. 8 for their first home conference match. The Lions were outmatched by the Flyers as Lewis won 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-10).
Leading Lewis was Fitterer with .667 hitting percentage and 11 kills, sophomore Geoff Powell with a game-high 14 kills and Bobby Walsh, who had six kills and five block assists.
“Lindenwood was coming off a win against IPFW and a five-game battle with Ball State,” Friend said. “We knew they were going to be tough for us, but I think we jumped on them early and were aggressive from the serve line.”
The following night, Quincy University made the trip to Romeoville. Unfortunately for them, just like Lindenwood, the Eagles had no answers for the Flyers, and they were swept 25-14, 25-14, 25-21.
The win put Lewis at 8-5 on the season and 4-0 in the MIVA. Even with an undefeated conference record, Friend still believes his Flyers haven’t played their best yet.
“I think we’re getting better. I think guys are improving, but I don’t think we’re in that stride mode yet, and that’s OK,” Friend said. “We’re in a good spot; we’re working to become more consistent, but we’re working every day to have a better sense of urgency and become more consistent.”
The Flyers’ upcoming games will be at Lewis Feb. 22 and 23 when they take on Ball State and Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne.