Apr 09, 2022 17:00 PM PST

Blaze Goes the Distance, Beats Untouchables in 5 Sets

With perhaps the most extended single set and match in NVA history, the Los Angeles Blaze held on to take down the Chicago Untouchables, 3-2.

Set one saw Blaze come out hot, immediately jumping out to an 8-3 lea due to a string of Untouchable errors. The Untouchables began to wake up mid-match, going point for point to keep Blaze within five, 11-16, off of kills from pin hitter Will Ragland. However, the Untouchables couldn’t get the ball to find the floor, and Blaze extended their lead to close the set 25-18, despite missing six serving errors in one set. The Untouchables would only hit 0.167 in the set to Blaze’s 0.182.

Set two saw the Untouchables get into a groove, trading points until a 6-6 tie. The Untouchables then went on to score ten of the following fifteen points off of two service aces and a kill by Ragland to take a 16-13 lead. Even with Blaze amassing four blocks, it was not enough to make up for their own string of hitting errors, letting the Untouchables take the second set, 25-22.

The Untouchables came to play in the third and immediately took the lead to 8-6. Like the second set, the Untouchables seemed comfortable maintaining a three-point lead even late into the set, off of kills from pin hitter Daniil Paraskevov, 21-18. However, the Blaze were relentless and pushed the game to extra points with two aces and a kill from opposite Charles Belvin. The late push would pay off, as Blaze finished their comeback and took the set 26-24 off a 0.345 hitting percentage.

Blaze came in ready for a historical fourth set, taking and keeping a lead through most of the play. While the Untouchables struggled from the service line, their serve-receive kept them in the game, allowing them to continually side out. Blaze seemed to be on their way to taking the set and the match halfway through, leading 19-16. However, Paraskevov erupted with a hot hand, scoring four kills in as many attempts to cut Blaze’s lead to one, 21-20. The teams continued exchanging points and blocks until an Untouchable kill finally capped the set 34-32 to force a fifth set. Blaze would end the behind, hitting 0.23, while the Untouchables would finish hitting 0.364, with both teams racking up 6 blocks in the frame. The historic set would last a whopping 42 minutes.

The fifth set would prove less exciting than the fourth, with Blaze turning it on offensively with the help of their middles, Carlos Negron and Damani Lenore. In contrast to the Untouchables struggling to find a connection, Blaze would go almost errorless in the set. Blaze would finish the fifth, hitting 0.381, ending the match at 0.284 off an impressive performance from Charles Belvin. In contrast, the Untouchables would only hit 0.111 in the 5th and finish the game, hitting 0.255 as a team.

Match Statistics

Los Angeles Blaze:

#17 Charles Belvin - 17 Points (16 Kills, 1 Ace)

#1 Carlos Negron - 16 Points (11 Kills, 5 Blocks)

#6 Eduardo Hernandez - 14 Points (13 Kills, 1 Block)

#4 Damani Lenore - 13 Points (9 Kills, 4 Blocks)

#10 Rafael Cruz - 12 Points (10 Kills, 2 Aces)

Chicago Untouchables:

#21 Austin Neace - 17 Points (13 Kills, 3 Aces, 1 Blocks)

#13 Will Ragland - 16 Points (13 Kills, 2 Aces, 1 Block)

#30 Kamil Garbowski - 14 Points (11 kills, 3 Blocks)

#99 Daniil Paraskevov - 11 Points (9 Kills, 2 Blocks)

- NVA Staff Writer