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Men's Volleyball - Wed, Jan. 18, 2017 - posted by Seth Preuss
Max Osmundson finished with a match-best 15 kills against New Paltz (NY) (Photo by Liza Rosales)
Max Osmundson finished with a match-best 15 kills against New Paltz (NY) (Photo by Liza Rosales)
SUNY-New Paltz
(8)Hope International

FULLERTON, CA – No. 8 Hope International University continued its tough preseason slate with a match against State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz on January 18 at 7:00 pm. The Royals dropped the second set after struggling offensively but roared back with two competitive sets to finish in four at home with a win over the defending NCAA DIII National Champs.

Hope International got off to a good start in the first set with a 25-21 win in the opener – after starting tied early at 4-4 the Royals began to pull away and stayed ahead by a steady margin for the remainder of the first set. Max Osmundson supplied four kills and the Royals out-blocked the Hawks three to nil in the win.

HIU got off to a good start in the second set as well but the Hawks rallied to tie at 7-7 before taking the lead for good at 11-10 midway through the second set. HIU would trail by as many as five down the stretch before falling 25-21 in the second stanza – the Royals hit just .042 as a team in the frame while the Hawks were able to swing at a .370 clip and sided out 13% better than the Royals.

The Royals went right back at the Hawks in the third with an early 13-5 run forcing a timeout by the Hawks' head coach. The Hawks drew an HIU timeout eight rallies later after cutting the lead to 15-10 in favor of the Royals, but HIU would go on to outlast the Hawks. The Royals would take their final timeout after the Hawks knotted the set at 23-23, but back-to-back Osmundson kills gave HIU a 25-23 win in set three.

Back-to-back kills from Charles Belvin gave HIU a 5-4 lead early in set four and the Royals' lead continued to grow. The Hawks took back-to-back timeouts looking to answer the Royals but HIU was able to stay in front 15-11 midway through the fourth. The pesky Hawks hung around and tied it at 23-23 before grabbing a 24-25 lead after a Royals timeout. HIU would tie it up again at 26-26 and went on to finish it out for a 26-28 win to take the match. When asked afterwards about his comments in the huddle during the final timeout, Coach Henry Valiente Jr. answered, "I reminded them to stay on task and remember their assignments. The beauty of our team is that we have a team filled with coachable players that really allow the staff to lead them."

Osmundson finished with a match-high 15 kills and also added seven digs to help his team – Belvin was right behind with 12 kills. Zach Greene did everything for HIU, tallying 11 kills, a team-high eight digs, three blocks, and two aces to get the win. Enrique Lopez dealt 39 assists and piled on six digs of his own.

When asked about the resolve required to beat a national champion, Coach Valiente Jr. replied, "It starts in practice, they work hard and compete at a high level that when it is game time against any opponent they can perform without doubt. They really trust each other and I don't have to say much because they truly do love each other as teammates."

HIU improves to 4-1 overall with the win and is now 2-1 against teams that played in the 2016 NCAA DIII National Championship - HIU split 1-1 with Springfield (MA) last week and defeated New Paltz tonight. The Royals now ready for their first long road trip of the season, playing their next month and change on the road before returning home for a pair of matches against UC Santa Cruz on Feb. 24 & 25.

Coach Valiente Jr. is looking forward to the road trips for team-building, saying "I am expecting that the team connects on a higher level and really learns how to become better teammates to each other. Road trips allow a team to spend more time together so that they grow closer as a family and what I want to stress is the importance of not staying complacent and always wanting to be better."

Game times and live coverage options are available on our website for the Royals' road games in the coming weeks. 

M - Volleyball
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