By Laura Bustos Martinez
The No. 8 Missouri Valley College men’s volleyball team opened the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) play with a match at home against Culver-Stockton on January 17. The Vikings earned their first victory of the season in four games, 25-21, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21.
“The game was a little bit hard,” Senior Mohamed Diyani said. “It’s the first game of the season, the players were nervous but we did good and we did all what the coaches asked us to do and we were successful.”
“I’m really optimistic about this season,” Diyani added. “I hope we will win the national championship.”
The Vikings lost their next non-conference match, the first on the road on January 18, against No. 1 Missouri Baptist University in Saint Louis, Mo., by scores of 25-23, 25-12, 25-15.
“We struggled to play with confidence,” team captain Casey Wood said. “We have some new players in the starting group so that should smooth out as we get more comfortable on the court with each other.”
“We have a really talented group,” he added, “so we intend to push far into playoffs this year and battle for a championship.”
The loss dropped Missouri Valley to 1-1 overall.
They also played two HAAC road matches on January 20 against No. 7 Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa and on January 21 against Mount Mercy University at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Vikings battled with the Crusaders before earning a victory in five games by scores of 32-30, 25-18, 25-20, 25-17, 15-8 and with the Mustangs to win in four games by scores of 20-25, 25-11, 25-16, 25-19.
Luis Garate with 11 kills finished with a .733-hitting percentage.
“We have a good team,” Garate said, “but we have to always take the lead of the game as we do at the beginning of the match.”
“We are in a good level, and I think that little by little we are going to strengthen our debilities and improve our strengths,” he added.
The Vikings got another victory on a HAAC road match on January 24 against Graceland University at Lamoni, Iowa. MVC won in four games by scores of 27-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-23.
Leading the way for Missouri Valley was Wood who had 17 kills and nine digs.
The win pushed Missouri Valley to 4-1 overall and 4-0 in conference play.
The Vikings later played at the Park University Invitational on January 28. MVC first fell to No. 3 Ottawa University by scores of 12-25, 20-25, 22-25, but earn a victory against Morningside College by scores of 25-22, 26-28, 23-25, 25-18, 15-12.
The MVC men’s volleyball team continued to play at the Park University Invitational on January 29. They earned a three-game win over Dordt College, 25-18, 25-16, 26-24, but fell to No. 6 Park University in three games, 23-25, 19-25, 20-25, finishing 2-2 at Park Invitational.
The Vikings has a 6-3 overall record.
Next for the Viking men’s volleyball team is a home non-conference match against Lindenwood University-Belleville. The match takes place Tuesday at 7 p.m., at the Burns Athletic Complex.