Jun 13, 2022 02:00 AM PST

Controversial Call Lifts Ramblers Over Kraken 3-2

The night would end on a challenge call to have the Ramblers take the deciding set and the match over the Colorado Kraken, 3-2.

Set one saw both sides trading momentum on the offensive of the net. The Ramblers would use tough serving to get a slight advantage; however, Kraken stayed within two with some gritty defense from libero JJ Rosa. Two kills by Ryan Mathers would give Ramblers a 7-3 lead, but Rahul Patel would serve the Kraken back to within one, 6-7. Long rallies ensued before yet another Mathers kill pushed the lead to 10-7. Kevin Vaz added an ace before Alvaro Ascues responded with two aces of his own to tie the game at 12. A Jordan Hoppe service run would put the Ramblers up 15-13 before Ascues responded again, this time with another kill. The set remained tight, with both teams maintaining a steady offense. Ascues and Liam Jenkinson would show up for the Kraken, adding back-to-back kills to tie the set at 19-19. However, new Ramblers middle Matthew Knigge would be the difference, adding two kills and another Mathers kill in the final stretch to take the set 25-22.

Set two saw a familiar pattern of momentum swings. Colby Elder started to heat up for the Ramblers, contributing two early kills. Kraken would continue to respond, including a setter dump from Rowdy Martin to tie the game at 6-6. Kraken saw themselves start to pull away with more scrappy defense by Rosa. A kill by Ascues pushed their lead to 12-8. Michael Keegan and Vaz would stop the run with a monstrous block and regain some momentum of their own on a string of Kraken errors. Kraken would maintain their lead, 17-16, on a Rambler's communication error before Dylan Haskill added an ace, and Ascues added a block of his own to extend the lead to four. Elder would end the run with a kill, and back-to-back Vaz blocks would bring Ramblers back within one. However, that would be as close as they would get as Martin would put away an ace to complement another Ascues kill to take the set 25-22.

Set three saw the Kraken block have more of an impact, ensuring no easy kills were coming from the likes of Vaz. The teams continued to exchange points with a smooth Keegan offense and some aggressive Kraken serving to tie the match at 6-6. Vaz and Ascues would trade kills, and the teams swapped some unforced errors to tie the game at 11-11. A Matt Gagner service run would give Kraken the 14-11 lead before Vaz put one away to keep the Ramblers within two. Elder would continue to fight for points, but it wouldn't be enough as the gritty Kraken defense continued to pull away for a 17-13 lead. Ascues led his team offensively while the Ramblers tried to keep the game within reach. Even a duo of Hoppe kills wasn't enough, as Kraken would take the set 25-20 off a Trenton Lance kill.

Down 2-1, Ramblers would enter set four with a sense of urgency. The teams would exchange points early to a 3-3 tie. A Patel service run would take the lead to three, but a successful challenge and two straight points from Mathers would tie the set back up at 6-6. The teams continue to exchange kills, including two from Patel, to tie the set at 11-11. Mathers took matters into his own hands, serving two straight aces to have Ramblers take the 16-12 lead. Ramblers would continue to dominate the rest of the set, pushing their lead to six at 19-13. Kraken would struggle to get through the Rambler block, and a Hoppe kill would put an exclamation point on the match, 25-16, to force a fifth set.

In a thrilling decisive set, the Kraken would start up 5-2 after an Ascues service run paired with a duo of kills. Ramblers struggled to put together strings of points, watching the Kraken lead extend to 10-5 off of some great offensive plays from Patel and blocking by Martin. However, ramblers would continue to chip away from some steady play from Mathers. It seemed like the match was all over, with the Kraken leading by three, 12-9, late in the set. However, Ramblers would score six of the following seven points, including a controversial 'in' call on the match's final point, to give them the 15-13 set win and the game, 3-2.

Mathers would score 25 points in his team's triumph, contributing from all sides of the ball with 19 kills, 4 Aces, and two blocks. The defense would prove to be the difference-maker, as the Ramblers would finish the match hitting 0.272 while Kraken would finish at 0.235. The game pushed Ramblers to 5-1 on the year while the Stingers fell to 2-4.

- NVA Staff Writer

Match Statistics

Las Vegas Ramblers:

#14 Ryan Mathers - 25 Points (19 Kills, 4 Aces, 2 Blocks)

#16 Jordan Hoppe - 18 Points (15 Kills, 3 Aces, 2 Blocks)

#18 Kevin Vaz - 13 Points (8 Blocks, 3 Kills, 2 Aces)

Colorado Kraken:

#19 Alvaro Ascues - 19 Points (17 Kills, 2 Aces)

#3 Rahul Patel - 14 Points (11 Kills, 2 Blocks, 2 Aces)

#2 Rowdy Martin - 10 Points (5 kills, 4 Blocks, 1 Ace)