RIVERSIDE, Calif. --- Eight matches in and taking on an opponent in its season opener, California Baptist University grabbed its first three-set sweep. Despite the lopsided match win over Princeton University, the Lancers had their work cut out for them, posting 32-30, 25-21 and 30-28 set wins.
The Lancers improve to 3-5 on the season, while the Tigers start their season 0-1.
"We didn't know anything about them since this was their first match of the year," said head coach Wes Schneider. "We went in emphasizing what we need to take care of and be successful on our side of the ball. We wanted to be patient and learn how they like to do some things, and I think as the match went on we got our groove and had some really nice moments."
Rocky DeLyon registered a game-high 13 kills, committing just two errors on 22 attempts, to lead his squad with a .500 clip. Johannes Brink, back from a medical leave, added 11 kills to the Lancer total.
"It was nice to have Johannes back and work some things with our growing team," said Schneider. "Having him back is still going to take some adjustments, though, since he's been out for a few weeks."
CBU came out looking to set the tone against the East Coast foes, but despite jumping out in front on numerous occasions, couldn’t quite shake off the Tigers.
The Lancers took a three-point lead at 12-9, but Princeton battled back. Neither team could put its counterpart behind by more than three, extending the set into the 30-point range.
Trailing 30-29, CBU dug deeper and scored three-straight points to claim the set 32-30. Princeton gave the Lancers the tying point off a service error and Brink laid down a kill to put the game within reach. Amir Lugo-Rodriguez and Brink then teamed up for a block to end the set.
Feeling momentum with the set win, CBU opened the second with the first two points, but once again Princeton kept it a close game.
After the Tigers evened the set at 5-5, the Lancers went on a 4-0 run to force a Princeton timeout. Kristopher Johnson set up a powerful solo block and Jonathan Tuttle added an ace in the span, giving CBU a 9-5 advantage.
Once again, however, the Tigers brought themselves back in the game and tied the score at 14.
The Lancers built back a multi-point lead at 21-18 off a kill from Tuttle, attack error from the visitors and Lugo-Rodriguez and Brink block, but the Tigers weren’t far behind.
Princeton brought the score within two at 22-20, but CBU put the set within its demise at 24-20 and took the second set 25-21 to hold the upper hand in the match at 2-0.
Set three started in a similar fashion with the previous two, with a tight score to start the game.
The Lancers surrendered a 12-10 lead, but battled back to take control. The Tigers kept fighting, however, and snatched the lead once more.
Tuttle’s cross-court kill tied the game at 22, but the Lancers couldn’t take over the score, allowing Princeton to get dangerously close to set point.
Even at 23, the Tigers were the first to reach set point as they grabbed the next point, but a service error put the score tied once again. Brink’s attack snuck through Princeton’s wall, giving CBU match point.
The Tigers held their own, determined to take a game off the Lancers and increasing the score. Princeton conceded a service error to once again give CBU match point and Tuttle slammed down the final kill of the night to end the set 30-28.
"You're playing a little bit more in long sets so it can be tiring, but I think it was good for the guys," said Schneider. "They found out they can grind out a win against a solid opponent. From a mental standpoint, they've fought and scrapped a few good sets this year and pulling out the three-set win really gives us a lot of momentum against a really good opponent tomorrow."
CBU turns right around to face No. 5-ranked USC tomorrow night at 8 p.m. on the road.
"We need to keep doing what we're doing and working our energy against USC," said Schneider. "I'd like us to get a little more comfortable with some of the things we're rolling out since we're changing a few things."
The Lancers will get a chance to recover from the amount of volleyball they’ve played in the past six days, returning to action on Monday, Feb. 3 at home. It will still be a test as CBU hosts No. 4-ranked BYU at 7 p.m.