Master’s men’s volleyball reaches NAIA semis 

Masters Mustangs middle blocker Will Avera (10) celebrates after blocking a hit during an exhibition match against the University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors at the MacArthur Center in Newhall, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2022. The Mustangs defeated the Rainbow Warriors in five sets. Chris Torres/The Signal

The Master’s University’s men’s volleyball team is heading to the NAIA semifinals after consecutive wins in pool play this week in Des Moines, Iowa. 

The Mustangs were pushed to five sets in their NAIA opener with Indiana Tech but emerged victorious. 

TMU won the match 25-18, 26-24, 23-25, 18-25, 15-12.  

Outside hitter Nolan Flexen hammered down a season-high 35 kills in the match, while Braden Van Groningen added 13 kills and five aces. Setter Matthew Ham finished with 66 assists while libero Diego Perez anchored the back row with 16 digs. 

The Mustangs swept Menlo College two days later, beating the Oaks 25-21, 26-24, 25-19.  

It was TMU’s third win over Menlo this season but another fierce contest, especially after Menlo swept Indiana Tech. 

Flexen was again a rock for the squad, finishing with 20 kills and an ace while Brett Norkus came up huge with eight blocks in the match. 

“A lot of energy,” Flexen said when asked what it took to beat Menlo in his NAIA press conference. “There were times when they showed up and had more energy. They started putting pressure on us and we’d get quiet. Once we got quiet, that’s when we knew we needed to flip the switch. We came out with some energy in that third set, especially at the end. We just started going all out.” 

Master’s now moves on for another rematch, a semifinals bout with the Vanguard Lions. The Mustangs and Lions split wins during the year, with Vanguard winning via a sweep, while TMU won in four sets. 

Round three of the Mustangs and Lions will be on Friday at 2 p.m. Pacific in Des Moines. 

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