Griffins edge Greenville on home court in heated battle

Griffins edge Greenville on home court in heated battle

St. Louis, Mo. - Tonight's Midwest Conference Volleyball League matchup between Fontbonne men's volleyball and Greenville College was a big one. The winner was to hold bragging rights in the all-time series which was tied 2-2 coming into tonight's matchup.

Fontbonne prevailed, backed by a large student section, after falling behind 0-2.

In the third set, Fontbonne trailed 22-20 in the third set after Greenville setter Tanner Smith served up an ace that slowly fell off the net onto the court. After the Griffins took a timeout, Fontbonne earned three straight points to take a one-point lead. The teams would tie at points 23 and 24. After the Griffins earned a point on a service error, freshman setter Kyler van Rossum-O'Connell helped Fontbonne avoid the sweep when he won a joust in the middle off Brendon Schwartze's dig.

The Griffins dominated the fourth set as Greenville mustered a .074 hitting percentage. With the game tied 11-11, Fontbonne scored four straight points which included two aces by Jacob Lendy, on their way to a 14-6 run to force the fifth set.

In the deciding frame, two blocks in a row gave Fontbonne a 4-2 edge. They maintained the lead until the Panthers took over 13-11. The Griffins needed a point to change the momentum their way and got it after a hard kill by Schwartze. Emir Hadzisalihovic and O'Connell teamed up for a block to tie the game. Thanks to some quick thinking by Fontbonne's coaching staff, the Griffins called a timeout to give O'Connell some time to recoup after he came down from the block with a cramp. Another block, this time by Hadzisalihovic and Stephen Lendy put the hosts within a point to win the game. Lendy put the rivalry game to bed after four straight Griffin points on a kill from the outside.

O'Connell recorded a career-high 53 assists in the win, besting his previous mark of 38. Four Griffins earned double-digit kills including Hadzisalihovic who recorded 10 as he hit for .474 and notched six block assists. Lendy paced Fontbonne with 19 kills while TJ Vorva recorded 12 and Schwartze 10. Schwartze also recorded five blocks. Libero Zach Rothstein tallied the game-high 13 digs for Fontbonne while O'Connell added nine. Jacob Lendy was fierce behind the service line with four aces. He also tallied nine digs.

The MCVL's leader attacker in Greenville's Manuel Benitez led the game with 28 kills.

Fontbonne is now 10-11 on the season and 5-10 in MCVL action. Greenville falls to 6-15 overall.

Fontbonne returns to Mabee Gymnasium in their final home game of the year this Saturday, March 18th when they host Olivet College in non-divisional matchup at 2 p.m.

Griffin Notebook: O'Connell's 53 assists tonight is the highest since Braxton Payne recorded 56 in Fontbonne's 3-2 win over MSJ on April 1, 2012.