Trinity volleyball perfect in first weekend of play

Tigers move up to #2 in AVCA poll following wins over two top-10 teams

288 days after their quarterfinal loss in the NCAA Division III Championship, the Trinity Tigers made their return to the court this past weekend. The Trinity National Invitational, a round robin-style tournament, saw the Tigers take on four ranked teams, two of which were in the top ten nationally.

Their first game was against Edgewood College, a talented team from Madison, Wis. Calgaard Gym was buzzing with excitement and anticipation that was only slightly dampened when an impromptu fire alarm went off during the first set.

Despite this interruption, the Tigers had an electric start to the match, quickly stacking up the points on a run that took them to a 25-19 victory in the first set, powered by senior Sarah Williammee, whose back-to-back kills put the set to bed. Trinity’s .125 hitting percentage stood well above Edgewood’s .027 as set two came along.

The Tigers came on just as strong in the second set, but Edgewood was still in the game. The score was 6-5 in favor of the Tigers before a string of service errors on Edgewood’s part and some stellar blocking by the home team propelled them to a 10-6 lead.

However, the Eagles weren’t done yet, as they started going for the deep corner — a strategy that worked, tying the score 10-10. The set continued as the two teams were neck-and-neck, with the Tigers trying their best to run away with the score. That they did, stretching their lead to 19-14 and threatening to claim the second set. Despite the Eagles’ best efforts, the Tigers wouldn’t be held down and won the second set 25-18.

The third set was more of the same as the Tigers could taste a victory in their future. Senior Emily Ellis started off the set with a series of blocks, catapulting the Tigers to an early 10-4 lead. The joy in the gym was infectious as Trinity’s energy and competitiveness showed through. After a last-gasp push from Edgewood, the game was tied at 12, prompting the Tigers coach, Julie Jenkins, to call a timeout for her side.

The timeout proved to be exactly what the Tigers needed, as they came back on the court and went on to score 11 unanswered points, with first-year Jenna Rodriguez’s sizzling run of serves bringing the score to 23-12.
Calgaard was loud, as the crowd could seemingly feel a statement win approaching. Senior Nadia Kern, who had been a force of leadership and the team’s engine all game, came on to finish the job. She did exactly that, serving an ace to end the third set and claim the victory against Edgewood.

After the game, standout sophomore Trinity Herrera spoke about the tournament and the opportunity for the Tigers. “Getting to play such competitive opponents for our first game of the season was such a privilege. We loved being able to get out there and play such competitive teams this weekend. I think it really helped prepare us for the teams we will be competing against this upcoming season,” Herrera said.

Trinity volleyball has had a fierce start to the season, largely due to Coach Julie Jenkins’ experience and love for the game. “Coach Jenkins’ philosophy has been to make sure we are working as hard as we can and giving our all every time we step in the gym. She has been working hard to prepare us for the season and pushing us to be our best,” Herrera said.

The victory against Edgewood was just a taste of what would come, with the rest of the weekend bringing three more victories for the Tigers. Sixth-ranked Berry College, 24th-ranked Transylvania College and top-ranked UW-Eau Claire would meet similar fates as Edgewood, with the Tigers making quick work of the tournament and sweeping every game.

The National Invitational kicks off an exciting season for the Tigers, who will travel to Atlanta, Georgia, to take part in the East-West Classic next weekend. They will face #9 Johns Hopkins, #8 Emory and #2 Claremont Mudd-Scripps as they hope to extend their four-game winning streak.