Kerrville, Texas - The fifth-ranked and defending champion champion Trinity volleyball team earned a 3-2 comeback win over #2 Southwestern (TX) University in the semifinals of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship Friday night.
The second-seeded Tigers claimed a 25-23, 17-25, 19-25, 25-23, 15-12 decision over #3 seed Southwestern.
The first set was close throughout, but Trinity was able to erase a late four-point deficit to take the 1-0 match lead. It was all Southwestern in the second, though, as the Pirates stormed back to tie the match by jumping out to a 20-9 lead. The Tigers closed to 23-17 late in the set, but Southwestern's large lead held up.
That momentum carried into the third set for Southwestern, which led 17-10 and 22-16 late, before finishing off Trinity and taking a 2-1 lead. With their backs against the wall in the fourth, the Tigers rallied from a 5-1 early deficit to eventually knot things up 11-11.
Trailing 19-17 and on the verge of a loss, Trinity rattled off five consecutive points to take a slim three-point lead. The Pirates tied it up 22-22, but the Tigers then scored three of the final four to close out the fourth, and send this semifinal to a final set.
Southwestern took the first three points of the fifth, but the resilient Tigers rallied to tie things up 7-7. Trinity took control of the fifth with three straight points and an 11-9 lead, and then pretty much traded points down the stretch. The Tigers won four of the final six points to clinch the match victory.
The Tigers advanced to the conference final for the seventh consecutive year, and will play top-ranked and #1 seed Colorado College for the title on Saturday.
Trinity and Southwestern had tangled in the finals for the past four tournaments, with the Tigers winning three times.
The Tigers improved to 27-6, and the Pirates dropped to 28-5.
Katrina Lieberman posted a double-double of a season-high 57 assists, along with 13 digs.
Sarah Mullens accounted for a team-best 18 digs, and can claim 1,482 in the career category. She stands in 13th place in Trinity's record books.
Mullens also recorded one service ace to bring her season total to 78, which is the sixth-highest in Trinity single season history.
Kirby Smith registered a double-double of 16 kills and 16 digs. Smith now has 1,388 career kills and is in seventh place on Trinity's all-time list.
Madeline McKay led the Tigers with 19 kills in her column.
Maggi Linker hit .519, with 14 kills on 27 total attacks. Linker also recorded six shots in the win.
Trinity plays Colorado College for the championship at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The winner will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.