Story by Lorenzo Serrato, Sports Editor
While the AQ Men’s Volleyball trip to nationals didn’t go as expected, this remarkable team has a lot to be proud of. The ninth-seeded Saints took on eighth-seeded Jamestown in a showdown that had back and forth action. Jamestown scored 25-17, 25-23, and 25-20 consecutively.
Aquinas battled, but Jamestown had a significant advantage, leading in categories such as kills (37-27), hitting percentage (.358-.108), assists (34-25), blocks (9-4) and aces (4-2). Jamestown had the upper hand, which played a key role in each match.
Seniors Joshua Boothroyd and Julian Armendano led the Saints offensively, with crucial kills to keep the Saints in the game. Even when things seemed to be going in the Saints direction, Jamestown quickly killed the rally. Heading into the third set, Aquinas had a 10-7 lead, but similar to the other sets, Jamestown stormed ahead. In a sad ending, the Saints season came to an end.
Despite the tough loss, the Saints accomplished a lot this season. Prior to the tournament, they defeated five teams that ranked higher in pre-season play and handed Indiana Tech their only loss in the campaign. The Saints also had an exciting 11 game winning streak, which led them to the WHAC championship. For the second time in program history, the Saints qualified for a national championship.
Argentina native Julian Armendano had quite the season, and his performance fueled the Saints all semester long. He finished as a First Team All-WHAC player, totaling 521 kills this season, ranking third in the NAIA. In his final matches, his offensive power was on full display.
“Even though we didn’t perform as well as we would have liked to, reaching the national tournament is huge for the program,” Armendano said. “Making it to nationals and being named First Team All-American are really big personal achievements for me, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the help and the work that my teammates put in.”
Armendano has remained optimistic heading into next season, even with the departure of several impactful seniors.
“Our team won’t change too much for next year, and I am certain that some players will step up and do a great job replacing the seniors that are graduating,” Armendano said. “I know that we will be back in nationals next year, and we will do a better job than last week by working hard on our weak spots to become the best team this program has ever seen.”