Vargas leads Fort Wayne to dominant win over Lindenwood


FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Thanks to dominant offensive performances from Pelegrin Vargas, Tony Price and Tomas Gago on Saturday (March 31), No. 15 Fort Wayne topped Lindenwood 3-1 (25-20, 25-18, 23-25, 25-19) on Arnie Ball Court.

Vargas led all attackers with a career-high 25 kills, averaging 6.25 per set, while hitting .676. Gago had nine kills and no errors for the second match in a row, this time hitting .750, just 24 hours after hitting .900 against Quincy. Price had 11 kills on 28 swings for a .321 clip, paired with two aces. Michael Keegan also had a strong all-around performance, tallying 49 assists, nine digs, an ace and a career-high seven blocks. Keegan’s previous high was five, which he had attained four times in his career.

After a 7-7 start in the first, Fort Wayne rattled off five straight, which included two blocks. LWU had two in a row, but the ‘Dons got three more on two Vargas kills and Keegan’s ace. A four-point run later on was led by three straight solo blocks by Gago (19-15, 20-15) and Keegan (21-15).

The second set was all ‘Dons, as Lindenwood only led at 1-0. Fort Wayne ended the set on an 8-2 run. Lindenwood took the third set thanks to a four-point swing that put the Lions up one at 19-18. The Lions also took the last two points of the set, concluding with a kill from setter Adam Brewster.

The last set of the night was heavily in favor of the Mastodons after the Lions led 6-4. Fort Wayne went on a 10-4 run to lead 17-11, following Vargas’ example as he had seven of his kills in set four. His new career-high kill came as the second to last point of the match and was followed by Colton Stone’s only ace of the night.

Kade Bontrager and Kolbie Knorr split the libero duties, notching six and five digs respectively. All five of Knorr’s digs came in the second set. Richie Diedrich stuffed seven attacks, which tied his season-high, while Gago added five blocks. Vargas’ 25 kills in four sets ties for the sixth most in the country this season, and breaks his own single-match high by any MIVA player this season.

Fort Wayne had 55 kills, compared to Lindenwood’s 40. The ‘Dons also out-blocked the Lions 15-6.5. The Blue and White out-hit the Lions .385 to .139, and did not have a lower hitting percentage than Lindenwood in any of the four sets.

The Mastodons improve to 17-9, 5-7 MIVA, while Lindenwood falls to 8-14, 2-10. Fort Wayne will play host to Ohio State and McKendree for the final weekend of the regular season next Friday and Saturday (April 7-8). The Mastodons will be playing for either a fifth- or sixth-place finish in the regular season. They currently sit one spot behind McKendree, who is 6-6 MIVA.

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