LEBANON — The McKendree University men's volleyball team played in front of the home fans for the first time ever on Tuesday at the Harry M. Statham Sports Center against Missouri Baptist University, but came up on a short end of a three-set loss to the visiting Spartans. The Bearcats were defeated by scores of 25-18, 25-23 and 25-21.
The loss sends McKendree to 1-5 overall. The Bearcats will make the short trip to St. Charles, Mo., for three matches this weekend at the Lindenwood University Tournament. McKendree will open with a 5 p.m. match on Friday against Coker College.
Freshman outside hitter Mike Polizzi led a balanced offensive attack for McKendree with eight kills, while freshman outside hitter Dustin Borenstein chipped in with seven attacks and a pair of service aces. Freshman setter Jack MacLean handed out 24 assists in the match, while MacLean and freshman outside hitter Andy Schnittker each collected seven digs.
In the first set the Bearcats fought their way to a 5-4 lead thanks to a service ace by Polizzi. Missouri Baptist (4-0) scored the next two points before a kill from Borenstein knotted the set at 6-6. That turned out to be the last time McKendree was tied in the set as the Spartans grabbed the lead right back, then used a 5-1 run to take a 22-15 lead before the second and final timeout of the set for the Bearcats.
McKendree never led in the second set, although the Bearcats rallied to within a point on four different occasions midway through the game. McKendree also fought off four set points, which included consecutive aces by Borenstein to help the Bearcats rally within 24-23.
The tempo in the third set belonged to McKendree, which led for most of the way. After the Spartans pulled even at 13-13, the Bearcats won three consecutive points to push their advantage to 16-13. Missouri Baptist eventually pulled even at 20-20, then scored five of the final six points to finish off the sweep.
Josh Comer put down a match-high 10 kills to lead Missouri Baptist, while Rob Esser distributed 28 assists and collected nine digs.
The teams will meet one more time this season on Feb. 11 in St. Louis.