Raul Rivera Rojas led the Mustangs in kills, digs, and ace serves during the 2016 men’s volleyball season.
Raul Rivera Rojas
Raul Rivera Rojas, a 5-11 junior outside hitter from Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, won a statistical triple crown for the Morningside College men’s volleyball team this past season when he led the Mustangs in kills, digs, and ace serves.
Rivera Rojas led the Mustangs’ attack with 370 kills for an average of 3.27 kills per set to account for roughly one-third of the Mustangs’ team total of 1190 kills. Rivera Rojas also paced the Mustangs’ defensive court coverage with a team-high 219 digs for an average of 1.94 digs per set and was the team’s top offensive weapon from the service line with 27 aces.
Rivera Rojas produced a double figure kill total in 19 of the Mustangs’ 33 matches, including a season’s high 24 kills in a 3-1 victory against Ottawa University on Feb. 12 for the Mustangs’ top individual total of the season. He had season’s highs of 19 digs in a 3-2 loss against Hope International University on Jan. 29 and a season’s high four ace serves in a 3-0 sweep of Dordt College on Feb. 16.
Caden Toben, a 6-2 freshman setter from Glendale, Ariz., stepped into the Mustangs’ starting lineup as a freshman and dealt a team-high 604 assists for an average of 5.54 assists per set. He made an impressive collegiate debut with a season’s high 42 assists when the Mustangs defeated Ottawa University 3-2 on Jan. 15 in their first match of the season.
Jacob Brand, a 6-10 freshman middle blocker from Homer, Neb., and Ryan Berk, a 6-11 freshman middle blocker from Cedarburg, Wis., were the Mustangs’ defensive leaders at the net. Brand had 16 solo blocks and a team-high 104 block assists to lead the team with an average of 1.03 blocks per set, while Brand had a team-high 26 solo blocks to go along with 91 block assists for an average of 0.98 blocks per set. Brand had the Mustangs’ top single-match performances of the season on Jan. 29 at the Grand View University Molten Invitational with seven solo blocks against Hope International and 10 block assists against Missouri Valley College.
Cody Wood, a 6-4 senior outside hitter from Cleburne, Texas, was the Mustangs’ most efficient hitter. Wood slammed 154 kills and had 73 errors in 432 attack attempts to lead the team with a .188 hitting percentage. Wood ranked second on the team with an average of 1.60 kills per set.
Johnathan Jupiter, a 6-0 senior defensive specialist from Saint John’s, Antigua, had the Mustangs’ top single-match dig performance of the season when he came up with 20 digs in the Mustangs’ Jan. 29 match against Hope International. Jupiter finished the season with an average of 1.67 digs per set.
Ian Leibitzke, a 6-1 senior outside hitter from San Diego, Calif., had the Mustangs’ top ace serve performance of the season when he had five aces in the Mustangs’ 3-2 win against Dordt on March 30.
Morningside posted a 10-23 record during the 2016 season, including a 6-4 record in the Midwest Conference to win the GPAC/KCAC Division. The Mustangs finished the campaign with five victories in their final eight matches.