FORT WAYNE, Ind. – It was a special night for the Purdue Fort Wayne men’s volleyball family on Friday (Jan. 13) when former Mastodon player and assistant coach JW Kieckhefer and his Carthage Firebirds came to town. The Mastodons beat the two-time defending Division III national champions 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-23).
Prior to the match, Mastodon head coach Ryan Perrotte honored his former player and assistant coach, celebrating Kieckhefer’s back-to-back Division III national championships.
The current Mastodons took it to the former ‘Don’s team once the match started, jumping out to a 6-3 lead. Sergio Carrillo started the match with an ace. A 4-0 run later in the set put the ‘Dons up 18-13 thanks to a double-block from Bryce Walker and Jon Diedrich. The ‘Dons went up 23-17 from there, giving them enough cushion to out-last the 5-2 advantage to the Firebirds over the last seven points. Walker had five kills on six attempts in the first set alone.
Carthage opened the second set on a 7-1 run. After a Mastodon timeout, Walker served the Mastodons back in it, bringing the ‘Dons into an 8-8 draw. It was 6-1 run just a few points later that put the ‘Dons up for good in the set at 16-12. It started with a kill from Emmanuel Jurineack before the ‘Dons forced the Firebirds into five errors in six attempts. After 22-21, the ‘Dons got a block from Carrillo and Walker to bring up set point. Carthage held off two, but served into the net to put the ‘Dons up 2-0. Purdue Fort Wayne hit a scorching .429 in the second set.
The third and final set of the match was as closely contested as any. The ‘Dons eventually stretched it out to a 22-18 lead after a kill from Jurineack, but Carthage brought it back within one after holding off a pair of match points. Mark Frazier put the exclamation point on the night, however, sending a ball deep into the Carthage back line. It landed on the end line and was upheld despite a Carthage challenge.
Frazier finished the night with 10 kills, including four in both sets two and three without an error. Diedrich led all attackers with 13 kills on .556 hitting, his most efficient outing since February of last season.
Division III All-Americans Gene McNulty (40 assists) and Carter Schmidt (12 kills) led the Firebirds.
Purdue Fort Wayne improves to 2-1 while Carthage falls to 0-1. The Mastodons will be back in action next week (Friday, Jan. 20) against first-year program Missouri S&T.