by Cory Guinn
GAFFNEY, S.C. – The Barton men's volleyball team suffered its first defeat of the season on Saturday morning, falling 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 24-26, 25-23) to Limestone College.
Playing without two starters, the Barton (3-1, 2-1) offense hit just .205 in the match and was unable to take advantage of 16 Limestone (1-1, 1-0) service errors. However, the BC defense did a season-high 47 digs to go along with 12 total blocks.
The two sides played to three ties in the early-going of the first set until Barton was able to build a five-point lead following an 11-6 run.
However, Limestone hung around and eventually took a 21-19 lead after back-to-back attack errors by the Bulldogs. Two consecutive kills and a service ace by Kevin Rocklein ended the first set in the Saints' favor.
After losing the first point of the second set, Barton once again led almost the entire time until the Saints tied the score at 18-all. Limestone ended the set on a 7-4 run to seal the 25-22 win and take a two-set lead in the match.
Barton responded with a win in the third set to keep the match alive, but not without some familiar excitement. BC led throughout the set until back-to-back attack errors allowed Limestone to tie the score at 23-23. The two sides traded points, but a kill and service ace, both by sophomore Vasilis Mandilaris, gave Barton the 26-24 victory.
Limestone and Barton were evenly match throughout much of the fourth set, playing to seven ties on the scoreboard before a 4-1 run by the Saints gave them a three-point lead they never relinquished.
Barton cut the deficit to a one-point margin five separate times and even tied the set at 22-22, but Limestone's momentum carried the team to victory.
Mandilaris turned in his first double-double of the season, finishing with 15 kills and 11 digs as well as three service aces. Sophomore Michael Tyler followed with a career-high 12 kills, eight digs and eight total blocks in his second career start, while senior Jonathan Novoa-Miralles had 10 kills and nine digs of his own.
Sophomore Justice Lord chipped in five kills without an error, his second straight match without a miscue, and seven total blocks. Redshirt-senior Juan Varona led the BC defense with 12 digs and fellow senior Federico Pagliara had 43 assists.
Barton has a week off from competition before traveling to Columbus, Ohio for a match against No. 1 Ohio State Universtiy on Friday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Ohio State Invitational.