Georgetown, Texas - The fourth-seeded and defending champion Trinity volleyball team advanced to the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship match after a thrilling 3-2 semifinals victory over top seed Colorado College on Friday.
The battle between the two Tiger teams was an epic back-and-forth affair that ended with Trinity ousting the seventh-ranked Colorado team. Trinity won 25-20 in each of the first two sets, while Colorado won 25-23 and 30-28 in the next two to force a decisive fifth set.
"This was one VERY hard-fought match, and a much deserved win for our Trinity volleyball Tigers," exclaimed Head Coach Julie Jenkins. "Our team did an outstanding job of simply fighting for every point, staying in the moment, and believing. Even though we lost game four, saving five game points gave us the momentum and fight needed to win it in the fifth. Both Kirby and Madeline came up big on the outside. This was a huge defensive match. This was a big win - and one we expected - but we will quickly shift our focus to tomorrow's championship."
In the fifth, Colorado jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, but Trinity rattled off three straight points to take its first lead. After Colorado went back in front 4-3, the Trinity Tigers scored six consecutive points to go ahead 9-4. Colorado would not go away, though, scoring seven of the next eight points to go up 11-10 and wrestle the momentum from Trinity. Trailing 11-12, Trinity then powered its way to the finish by scoring the final four points of the match to take the victory.
Madeline McKay and Kirby Smith led the Tigers with 18 kills each. Smith added 12 digs to finish with a double-double, while McKay hit .312 in the match. Erika Edrington accounted for 53 assists and 20 digs, while Shannon Courtney recorded 25 digs to lead Trinity's defensive effort. Rebecca Hayes blocked nine shots, while Sarah Price contributed 16 digs in the winning effort. Courtney and Smith tied for the team lead with three service aces each.
Earlier in the day, Trinity beat fifth-seeded Austin College 3-1. Trinity took the first set 25-17, but the Kangaroos bounced back to win the second 25-19. Trinity surged ahead and came out on top 25-21, 25-13 to close out the match. Kristina Hughes hit .500 in the matchup, picking up nine kills. Smith registered a double-double of 22 kills and 11 digs, while hitting .358. McKay pounded in 14 kill shots, and Edrington shelled out 54 assists to go with 11 digs. Courtney led the team with 22 digs, and the match with four aces. Price posted 17 digs, and Sarah Mullens added 15. Hayes blocked five of the ‘Roos shots.
"We played a solid match against a very talented Austin College team," said Coach Jenkins following the opening match. "We were high error to start off the match, and our players did a good job of making adjustments, and not getting flustered. We served well and took Austin out of their office. Our back row read their hitters well, and it was a strong defensive match. Kirby was on fire, and Erika had an impressive match as well."
Trinity (24-12) will take on the winner of second-seeded Southwestern and No. 3 Texas Lutheran University at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The two teams played in the semifinals Friday evening. It will mark the fifth straight appearance in the title match for the Tigers. Trinity won the last two SCAC Championships with wins over Southwestern, which is currently ranked No. 12 in the nation. Saturday’s winner will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Playoffs.