History was made this season for the EMU men’s volleyball team. A driving force for the Royals was the best defense in the Continental Volleyball Conference, and middle blocker Dan Lutz (Greencastle, Pa., Greencastle-Antrim) led the way throughout the regular season all the way to the team’s run to the CVC Championship match.
Eastern Mennonite made its first CVC tournament appearance in the six-year history of the league and made a deep run, upsetting top-seeded Marymount in the semifinals. In that match, Dan tied a career high with 10 blocks. He also notched 11 kills, which was just one shy of his career high. In the championship match against Juniata, he added 10 kills and nine more blocks.
“During the tournament, Christian and I were connecting well and I was able to put balls away,” Dan said. “The energy from the intense matches and from the crowd at Marymount really pushed me to be as aggressive as possible on my blocks. This couldn’t have happened if the pin blockers didn’t set the blocks well and it makes the job as a middle a lot easier.”
With his defensive dominance during the tournament, Dan was named to the CVC All-Tournament Team.
He ended the season leading the CVC in blocks per set at 1.25. Offensively, he had a hitting percentage of .287 while also putting down 1.42 kills per set.
“Dan has been a defensive force at the net with his massive block all year,” Coach Ross Madden said. “He not only reads the offense like a textbook, but is surprisingly quick side to side for a man of his size. Once Dan comes into the front row, our opposition gets demoralized and they start to tip.”
Coach Madden also speaks of Dan’s smart mind as being a key component to his success, noting multiple times that setter Christian Taylor (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) and Dan would “pick apart” the opponent’s defense in order to score.
“He’s got a true problem solver’s mind for the game,” Coach Madden said.
This year’s Royals accomplished a lot, tying for the best season in program history with a record of 22-11. Not only did they make the CVC Tournament for the first time, but they were also nationally ranked for a majority of the year before making a deep postseason run to finish as the CVC runner-up. Towering at the center of it all, the 6’ 8” Dan was a stronghold on both defense and offense.
“I’m proud to be a part of the team that put EMU on the map as a great men’s volleyball program,” Dan said. “It felt great. Our team accomplished something that no other team before us could do, and to be a part of history feels amazing. It makes me hungry for next year because I know we can win the tournament and I won’t settle for anything less.”
Dan has one year of eligibility left to play volleyball as a Royal. With a majority of the key players returning next year, he foresees another deep run and a possible title, which would be a first for an EMU team.
Dan is a biochemistry major and upon graduation will be pursuing a pharmaceutical degree.
--- by Jake Brown, Sports Information Intern