Photo by Steve Woltman.
Lewis middle blocker Tyler Mitchem attacks the ball for a kill.
The ninth ranked Flyers were tested during a recent road trip to Indiana, dropping their match against Ball State but emerging victorious over Fort Wayne.
Lewis carried an eight-match winning streak into a packed Ball State arena, but failed to further extend the streak by falling 3-0. While the Flyers outmatched the Cardinals in blocks, they struggled to get their offense animated.
“We haven’t been on the road since our opening weekend,” said head coach Dan Friend. “You need to learn to play on the road to be successful, and we didn’t adjust as quickly as we would’ve liked to.”
The Flyers’ struggle with serve receive is summed by their .046 hitting percentage in the match. Lewis was very competitive at the start of the first two sets, but Ball State managed a few runs that were too much to overcome.
Early in the finale, Lewis lagged, but mounted a comeback to move within 22-20. However, Ball State withstood the rally, scoring the final three points of the match to complete the sweep.
Redshirt freshman middle blocker Tyler Mitchem tallied nine kills and eight blocks in the match, and redshirt sophomore outside hitter Ryan Coenen added nine kills.
“Teams play well at home, and it’s important to approach road matches with a business-like mentality,” said Friend.
Despite the bump in the road versus Ball State, the Flyers bounced back the following evening by sweeping Fort Wayne and improving their overall record 9-4.
Lewis adjusted offensively against the Mastodons, striking early and refusing to slack in the late stages of the stretch. Coenen shined in the final set, accounting for seven of the team’s 12 total kills in the set.
Volleyball is a momentum-driven game, and a big kill, serve or block can often spark a run that changes the flow of the set. Lewis composed at least one run in each set against Fort Wayne as they cruised to a straight victory.
Coenen lead the team, but sophomore outside hitter Kyle Bugee added nine to the score. Mitchem continued his impressive weekend, offering eight kills and four blocks.
Approaching the middle point of the season, coach Friend is pleased with the cohesive nature of his team.
“Our freshman middles continue to impress me; they have shown they’re not afraid of the big moment,” said Friend.
Lewis looks for success when they travel to battle rival Loyola this Wednesday, Feb. 28.