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No. 5 Trinity Shuts Out Reigning NCAA III Champs for 4-0 Season-Opening Weekend Slate

No. 5 Trinity Shuts Out Reigning NCAA III Champs for 4-0 Season-Opening Weekend Slate

SAN ANTONIO - No. 5 Trinity University Volleyball put the NCAA III world on notice Saturday, doubling-down on its performance in Friday's opening day with a shutout victory over defending national champion No. 1 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (25-15, 25-23, 25-23) to conclude the 2022 Trinity National Invitational.

The Tigers (4-0) open the season with four-straight shutout victories as the statement win over the top-ranked Blugolds came after a swift victory over No. 24 Transylvania University (KY) earlier in the afternoon (25-22, 25-17, 26-24).

Rookie outside hitter Reagan Whatley (The Woodlands, Texas / The Woodlands) led the day offensively with 19 kills including a match-high 10 in the victory over Eau Claire. The first-year also added four blocks on the day with one of two solo blocks coming as the match-clincher in the evening.

Fellow outside hitter junior Mackenzie Logan (Calgary, Canada / Bishop Carroll) and senior rightside Sara Flynn (Seattle, Wash. / Rossevelt) added 17 kills each, the latter came on a blistering .455 attack rate to go along with five blocks in six sets for the senior.

The Tigers hit on a .282 percentage for the day thanks to a consistent, reliable setting performance between senior Marisa Amarino (Calabasas, Calif. / Notre Dame) and sophomore Trinity Herrera (San Antonio, Texas / Clark) as the three-rotation duo combined for 69 assists on Trinity's 83 kills.

Both starting middle blockers, senior Brette Thornton (Rockwall, Texas / Rockwall) and junior Maddie Fate (New York, N.Y. / Croton on Hudson) finished the day with 10 blocks, six in the afternoon victory for Thornton, six in the evening victory for Fate.

Senior rightside Sarah Williammee (Denver, Colo. / East) was named the Trinity National Invitational Tournament MVP as she posted 33 kills on a .333 hitting rate for the weekend, 16 of which came in the victory over No. 6 Berry College Friday night. Amarino and senior libero Nadia Kern (El Paso, Texas / Montwood) joined Williammee on the all-tournament list after posting 72 assists (six per set) and 52 digs (4.33 per set), respectively.

The fifth-ranked Tigers move their focus to the 2022 East*West Classic next weekend on the campus of No. 8 Emory University in Atlanta. There, Trinity will face the 2017-19 NCAA III champions in reverse order throughout the weekend.

Game One: Trinity 3, Transylvania 0

The rightside dominance continued Saturday afternoon as Flynn went seven-for-eight on the attack in the opening frame against the Pioneers. Flynn's performance was necessary, however, as four of her eight kills came in response to a 17-13 deficit to Transy, rallying the Tigers for five straight points and a 25-22 first-set mark.

The mometum from the 12-5 run that clinched the first ran over into the second set as back-to-back kills from Thornton doubled-up the Pioneers, 10-5. Consecutive blocks featuring the middle blocker notched the largest lead of the set at 18-10 as Thornton worked both pins connecting with Whatley, then Williammee. Logan took the closer role as three of her set-leading four kills came in the final four Trinity points.

Transylvania flipped the script to open the third as the Pioneers extended to a seven-point margin at 12-5 but an 8-4 Trinity response powered by three more Logan kills drew the margin to just one at 14-13 in favor of the Pioneers, though the Tigers still did not manage to assume the lead. Trinity, in fact, faced set point down 24-22 but forced three straight errors from the Pioneers the capped off the shutout victory with a strong stirke from the middle by Fate.

Game Two: Trinity 3, UW-Eau Claire 0

The reigning champion Blugolds found a brief advantage at 8-7 to open the weekend's marquee matchup but five of Whatley's match-leading 10 kills ultimately overpowered Eau Claire to the tune of a 25-15 first-set tally. A 5-1 run lifted the Tigers out of the 8-7 deficit while a 7-2 stretch closed the frame including back-to-back kills from Thornton split on either side of the Blugolds' late timeout at 22-15.

The firepower shifted away from the pin into the middle for the second set as Fate logged seven of her nine successful strikes en route to the first of two 25-23 outputs to shutout the nation's top-ranked squad. Fate's presence had already been felt defensively with three of her six total blocks in the first set but the strategic shift offensively proved reliable throughout the second. The largest margin for the set came on a Logan kill at 21-18 in favor of the Tigers as both sides traded the lead four times and logged double-digit tied scores.

The offense continued to shift to the opposite pin for the final set as Flynn's five kills carried the attack down the stretch while the front-row defensive effort denied any chance of a Blugold run with six of the team's 11 blocks for the match.

All-Trinity National Invitaitonal

Williammee, Amarino and Kern headlined a seven-player list for the 2022 All-Trinity National Invitational list, joined by Charlie Nelson and Sheridan Dettmann of UW-Eau Claire, Molly Bergin of Berry and Madison Sweeney of Transylvania.

Up Next

No. 5 Trinity Volleyball heads to Atlanta for the 2022 East*West Classic next weekend to battle the NCAA III champions from 2017-2019 in reverse order, taking on No. 9 Johns Hopkins University (MD), host-No. 8 Emory University and No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (CA) during the two-day event.