Barton suffers straight-set loss to Lindenwood in Grow the Game Challenge

Junior Aleksa Brkovic attacks against a University of Hawaii block attempt during Saturday night's Grow the Game Challenge in Nashville, Tenn. Brkovic had seven kills and six digs on Sunday in BC's event finale against Lindenwood University. | Photo courtesy of Jay Sowers
Junior Aleksa Brkovic attacks against a University of Hawaii block attempt during Saturday night's Grow the Game Challenge in Nashville, Tenn. Brkovic had seven kills and six digs on Sunday in BC's event finale against Lindenwood University. | Photo courtesy of Jay Sowers

by Benny Benton

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Barton College let the first set get away, then the match itself, in a straight-set men's volleyball loss to Lindenwood University Sunday morning at the Grow the Game Challenge.

The Bulldogs (0-3) held a six-point lead midway through the opening frame after consecutive kills by Angelos Mandilaris put Barton up 15-9 and forced a time out by the Lions (3-0).

Barton held off a mini-run by Lindenwood to reach set point at 24-20 on a kill by Aleksa Brkovic, but the Lions won the next four points to tie the set at 24-all. The score reached 26-all before a service error by Barton and a kill by Nathan Van Dellen sealed the set for Lindenwood.

From there, the Lions dominated the final two sets in completing a sweep of three Conference Carolinas opponents in the Grow the Game Challenge, a showcase that brought together NCAA Division I and II teams from across the country.

Barton went 0-2 in the event, losing late Saturday evening to nationally-ranked No. 4 University of Hawaii in four sets.

Lindenwood hit nearly .300 in the second set and almost .400 in the third in cruising through the match. Charley Hlavin had 12 kills while hitting .409 in leading the Lions.

Angelos Mandilaris paced the Bulldogs with 11 kills. Brkovic added seven kills and a team-high six digs.

The Lions enjoyed a 10-5 edge in team blocks and a 9-0 edge in service aces in the contest.

The road gets no easier for the Bulldogs, as they will face nationally-ranked Brigham Young University on consecutive days next weekend in Provo, Utah. The two teams met for the first time ever last year in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, where the Cougars won in straight sets.