Coach Nickie Sanlin made it clear in her prematch news conference that she has a high standard of excellence for her team whether it’s competing in a practice or a marquee conference match.
No. 13 McKendree lived up to that standard in its big match of the season so far.
McKendree maintained its undefeated record and its hold on first place in the MIVA as it defeated No. 3/4 Lewis 25-21, 19-25, 25-19, 25-22 in the Molten/Off the Block National Match of the Week on Friday in Romeoville, Illinois.
Outside attacker Ethan Carroll led McKendree (8-0, 7-0 MIVA) with a season-high 15 kills on a .379 attack percentage. In addition, the senior had a game-high six kills in the fourth game to secure the victory and extend the program record season-opening winning streak to eight matches.
Carroll was one of three McKendree players to have double-digit kills against its in-state rival. Opposite Zach Schnittker had 12 kills, while outside attacker Ross Patrick also had 12 kills on a .400 attack percentage.
The Bearcats out-hit the defending MIVA champions .277 to .265, including having a match-best .423 attack percentage in its opening-game win.
All-American outside attacker Ryan Coenen in the loss finished with a match-high 18 kills but was the only Flyer with double-digit kills. All-American middle attacker Tyler Mitchem also contributed eight kills while hitting .467.
Lewis out-blocked McKendree 9 to 8 with Conen and Mitchem each having five blocks to lead the Flyers (8-2, 3-2 MIVA).
Middle attacker Lucas Galifos had a team-high five blocks. The McKendree graduate student entered the weekend leading the MIVA and third in the nation with a 1.38 blocks per game average.
Libero Francisco Comas also had a match-high 12 digs and Schnittker contributed 11 digs.
This is the second consecutive year McKendree has defeated Lewis. The Bearcats on the road upset the Flyers — their only conference loss during the abbreviated 2020 season.
While the two teams are ranked NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball national coaches poll, Lewis is No. 1 and McKendree is No. 2 in the Off the Block Division II National Coaches Poll.
Lewis has held the No. 1 ranking every week since the Division II poll started in 2017.