It turns out the Carthage men’s volleyball team will get another chance to play at Tarble Arena.
The Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League regular-season champion Red Men — tied for the No. 1 ranking in the country in the latest NCAA Division III coaches poll — hosted the conference tournament over the weekend but suffered a surprising five-set loss to Fontbonne in Saturday’s championship match.
That gave Fontbonne the MCVL’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament and forced Carthage to sweat it out to see if it would reach the national tournament for the second consecutive season when the at-large bids were announced Monday morning.
Well, the Red Men must’ve done plenty to get into the tournament.
Carthage (23-2) received an at-large Pool C bid to the tournament and will actually host a regional Friday and Saturday at Tarble.
The Red Men may even get another crack at Fontbonne, which was placed into the same regional.
Carthage must first play UC Santa Cruz in a regional semifinal at 4 p.m. Friday, followed by the other regional semifinal between Fontbonne and Milwaukee School of Engineering at 6 p.m. Friday.
The winners will play for the regional title at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The regional winner advances to the national semifinals, which — along with the national championship match — will be held in Union, N.J., on April 26-27.
Prior to Saturday’s defeat, the Red Men had won 16 consecutive matches, including 14 by 3-0 sweep. They went 9-0 during the MCVL regular season, winning every match 3-0.
The good news continued Monday for the Red Men, as senior setter Matt Reinsel, sophomore outside hitter Matt Slivinski, senior outside hitter Evan Walsh and sophomore middle hitter Eric Winter all were named to the All-MCVL first team.
Reinsel is a four-time selection, while Walsh has been named twice. Both Winter and Slivinski earned their first All-MCVL honors.
A three-time American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American, Reinsel leads Division III in assists per set (12.08). He has 942 assists and 44 blocks and currently ranks second on the program’s all-time assists list (3,412) and is third all time in assists per set (11.08).
Walsh ranks 13th in Division III with 3.64 kills per set and 13th in points per set (4.26). Walsh, an AVCA second-team pick last year, has 619 career kills.
In just his second collegiate season, Winter leads the Red Men with 65 blocks and 1.02 blocks per set, which ranks seventh in the country. Slivinski is second on the team in kills per set (3.55) and tied for the team lead in kills (273).
Augustana 5, Carthage 3
For the third straight game, Carthage couldn’t hold onto a late lead, as host Augustana rallied for a College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin victory Monday.
Carthage led, 2-1, before the Vikings scored four times in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Red Men (14-13, 4-8) pushed a run across the plate in the eighth inning to cut the deficit to 5-3, but couldn’t get any closer.
The Red Men, who dropped a pair of walk-off decisions in a doubleheader loss Saturday to the Vikings, scored single runs in the first and second innings on a fielder’s choice by Vince Schwartz and an RBI single by Ricky Bergstrom.
Myles Farley led the Carthage offense with three hits and a run scored, followed by Johnny Belskis (hit, RBI), Bergstrom (hit, RBI), Ryan Kramer (hit, run) and Ben Levicki (hit, run).
Tremper graduate Jacob Delabio pitched a strong 61/3 innings, but took the loss to fall to 0-5. Delabio allowed four hits, two earned runs, three walks and struck out nine.
With the loss, the Red Men are two full games behind sixth-place Illinois Wesleyan for the final berth in the CCIW Tournament. Carthage closes its regular season with a three-game weekend series at Wesleyan on May 3-4.
Mike Johnson and Dan Truttschel