Thousand Oaks, California - The 10th-ranked Tiger volleyball concluded the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational Saturday, falling in a 3-2 thriller to Whittier (CA) College, but storming back to defeat the 11th-ranked host California Lutheran University.
The Tigers were edged 25-20, 24-26, 15-25, 25-20, 14-16 by Whittier in the opener. Trinity then fired up and beat California Lutheran 25-21, 25-16, 25-20.
Trinity pulled away late to take the opening set against Whittier, but the Poets held off a late rally by the Tigers in set two, and the match was even at 1-1. Whittier dominated the third set, taking a 22-9 lead at one point. Trinity hit .361 in the fourth set to draw even and force the decisive fifth set. The teams were tied 12-12 late in the contest, but the Tigers fired off two straight points to set themselves up with match point. Whittier rallied with four consecutive points, though, and pulled off the upset.
The Cal Lutheran match had less drama, but was still a matchup between nationally-ranked opponents. Trinity held off a late rally by the Regals in set one, but the Tigers prevailed. The second set saw the Tigers pull ahead 17-10, and after four straight Cal Lutheran points, Trinity secured eight of the next 10 points to finish off the second set. The Tigers were the team to rally in the third, turning a 15-14 deficit into an 18-15 lead. The Regals got to within one point, but Trinity held on to complete the sweep.
The Tigers went 3-1 at the tournament, first defeating Pomona-Pitzer (CA) Colleges and ninth-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CA) Colleges on Friday. After beating Cal Lutheran for the second time this season, the Tigers improved their record to 6-2.
Rebecca Hayes chalked up six blocks against the Poets and two against the Regals, and is now the 13th Tiger player to reach 300 blocks in a career.
Kirby Smith paced the Tigers with 19 kills in the matchup with Whittier, and had 12 against California Lutheran. Smith now has 1,120 career kills and is ranked 14th in Trinity's history books. She also posted a double-double with 16 digs, and also hit .367 against the Regals
Sarah Mullens amassed 16 digs in the first match of the evening, and had 17 in the second. Mullens is just two digs shy of breaking into the school's top-25 list.
Maggie Linker posted 13 kills and hit .480 against Whittier, along with firing in three aces at Cal Lutheran.
Annie Rose Leggett recorded 21 digs in the Whittier match, and nine more against California Lutheran.
Avery Tuggle hit .393 against Cal Lutheran with 12 kills and only one error.
Amelia Roden shelled out 17 assists in the match with Whittier and 21 against Cal Lutheran.
The Trinity Fall Classic is on the agenda for next weekend. First up is Hardin-Simmons (TX) University at 3:00 p.m. Friday, followed by a match with 14th-ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater at 7:00 p.m. Saturday's schedule has the Tigers meeting East Texas Baptist University at 1:00 p.m., and a rematch with Pomona-Pitzer at 5:00 p.m.