San Antonio - The 14th-ranked Tiger volleyball team battled its way to a pair of exciting wins Saturday at its Trinity National Invitational, first defeating #23 University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and then sixth-ranked California Lutheran University.
In the opening match of the day, the Tigers beat Wisconsin-Oshkosh 25-20, 17-25, 25-15, 25-20. Then came the electrifying five-set victory over California Lutheran, as Trinity prevailed 22-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-23, 15-12.
The Tigers had an inauspicious start against Wisconsin-Oshkosh with an 0-6 deficit, but the game was later tied at 18-all. The Tigers won seven of the last nine points to take the opening set, while hitting .355. The second stanza belonged to the Titans, who held a 16-10 lead and hit .478. Trinity came within three points after that mark, but the match became tied at one-set apiece. The Tigers got down to business in the third set and hit .391, which included taking the last four points. A .406-hitting fourth set had Trinity leading 17-10, as the Tigers closed out the matchup by winning five points in a row.
Later in the afternoon, Trinity took sixth-ranked Cal Lutheran in their final match-up of the tournament. Cal Lutheran took a 17-14 lead in the opening set, when Trinity scored three straight points and closed to 17-17. The Tigers pulled to 22-23, but the Regals scored the next two points to take the first stanza. The battling Tigers came back in the second set from an early deficit and posted five straight points to lead 14-9. Another run had the Tigers up 18-10, which established the tone for the rest of the set,
The Regals led 16-7 in the third when the Tigers rattled off six consecutive points. Trinity closed to 18-19, but managed only two points the rest of the way. The fourth set had the Tigers up 19-13, when Cal Lutheran started a mini-rally. Cal Lutheran tightened to 22-23 and then hit a kill shot to make it 23-24. Rebecca Hayes hit the final kill shot of the fourth set, as the match was all-squared.
The deciding fifth set was a electrifying as the score was tied at 12-12. Avery Tuggle supplied three consecutive kills, as the Tigers emerged victorious over the higher-ranked opponent.
Trinity went 3-1 at the season-opening tournament, splitting the matches on Friday. The Tigers defeated Whitman (WA) College and then lost to top-ranked and defending NCAA Division III champion Calvin (MI) College.
Kirby Smith had two double-doubles on Saturday, posting 13 kills and 10 digs against Oshkosh and 10 kills and 17 digs in the matchup with California Lutheran.
Sarah Mullens led the opening match with 15 digs in her column and also paced the tussle with Cal Lutheran, chalking up 34. Mullens was rewarded for her performances with All-Tournament accolades. The 34 digs was a career-best performance for Mullens, as well as tying for the fifth-most digs in Trinity history for a single match.
Madeline McKay had 10 kills and hit .500 in the opener, while picking up nine kills and four aces against the Regals. McKay joined Mullens on the All-Tournament Team.
Maggi Linker accounted for 11 kills and chalked up a .476 hitting percentage against Oshkosh.
Amelia Roden amassed 24 assists in the first match of the day. Roden chalked up a double-double against Cal Lutheran, with 24 assists and 11 digs.
Newcomer Avery Tuggle stepped up with nine kills and hit .444 against the Regals.
The Tigers head to Thousand Oaks, California, next weekend for the California Lutheran-hosted Cal Lu Fornia Invitational. Next Friday, Trinity takes on Pomona-Pitzer (CA) Colleges and seventh-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CA) Colleges. The Saturday schedule has the Tigers meeting Whittier (CA) College, and host Cal Lutheran.