ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Oscar Tuero led Park's offense, with 18 kills, while Daniel Arteaga had 17 kills. Milos Trivunic assisted 48 kills for the Pirates' offense. No. 3 seed Park University men's volleyball team took on No. 2 seed Missouri Baptist University in the semifinal match of the 2017 National Invitational Tournament. The Pirates (25-5) beat the Spartans (27-3) 3-1 (21-25, 28-26, 25-19, 25-23) for the first time this season, after meeting three different times. The Spartans' offense was led by Mico Janicijevic with 22 kills, while his teammates, Luka Cajic and Daniel Prada, both had 10 kills each. Kyle Foley had a total of 37 assists in the match for Missouri Baptist.
The Spartans jumped out in front right away in the first set, leading the Pirates 7-3. Park made a come-back, to trail Missouri Baptist 8-6. A couple points later, Leandro Sodre got a kill to tie the set up 9-9. Arteaga got a kill for the Pirates' offense, to put Park up 12-11 in the set. Missouri Baptist went on to win the set 25-21 over Park. The Spartans led the Pirates 1-0 in the match.
Missouri Baptist jumped out in front of Park, leading the Pirates 12-8 in set two. The Pirates went on a 2-0 run, which turned into a 3-0 run, when Arteaga got kill, to win a long rally. Park trailed Missouri Baptist 12-11, after Arteaga's kill. Victor Neves and Sodre blocked the Spartans' Cajic attack at the net, to trail the Missouri Baptist 16-15. Towards the end of the set, Tuero and Sodre blocked Janicijevic's attack at the net, to tie the set up 24-24. Arteaga got two back-to-back kills, for the Pirates to win the set 28-26.
Park jumped out early in the beginning of the third set, to lead Missouri Baptist 7-3. The Pirates were able to keep two-point lead over the Spartans through the middle of the set. Sodre got a kill for the Pirates, to lead the Spartans 17-15. After Sodre's kill, Park went on a 4-0 run, to extend their lead to 21-15 over Missouri Baptist. The Spartans' Janicijevic got a kill, to put an end to the Pirates' run. Arteaga got the set point for Park, to win the set 25-19. The Pirates led the Spartans in the match 2-1.
Billy Crow set the ball at a hard angle, and Mario Lucas was able to put the ball over the net for a kill, in the fourth set. After Lucas' kill, the Pirates trailed the Spartans 5-4. Arteaga went up for a solo block to stop Prada's attack from coming over the net. Park was down 10-9, after Arteaga's solo block. Arteaga's block was part of a Park 7-0 spurt, which Crow had all of those serves. The Spartans' Ivan Trifunovic had a solo block, to put an end to the Pirates 7-0 spurt. Later in the set, Missouri Baptist tied it up 20-20 with Park. The Spartans' jumped out first after the tie, and Arteaga got a kill to tie the set back-up 23-23. Park went on to win the set 25-23, due to an attacking error on Janicijevic. Park won the match 3-1 over Missouri Baptist.
Crow had a big night for the Pirates' defense, with 11 digs. Park had a total of 22 blocks in the match. The Spartans' Robert Hall had 15 digs, while his team had a total of 20 blocks.
The No. 3 seed Park will take on No. 1 seed Grand View University in the 2017 National Invitational Championship match on Saturday, April 22. The first serve is set for 6 p.m. There will be live stats and live video available through https://portal.stretchinternet.com/naia/. There will also be live video through ESPN3.
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