ALLIANCE, OHIO -- The Trine University men's volleyball team completed the final day of the Mount Union Purple Raider Rumble with a two-match split, falling to Thiel (Pa.) College, 3-1, but defeating Thomas More (Ky.) College, 3-0, to end play in Alliance, Ohio.
In the early match against Thiel, Trine (3-10) fell behind early by dropping the first two sets, 25-17 and 25-21. In the third set, the Thunder trailed by three points, 12-9, when a service ace by freshman Eric Santiago-Garcia (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Glen Ridge), followed by back-to-back kills by freshmen Dan Boren (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) and Kyle Dixon (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Twp.) highlighted a streak of six straight points that resulted in a 15-12 lead for the Thunder.
Thiel came back to even the set on multiple occasions and also had a 25-24 advantage late. Kills by Santiago-Garcia and Dixon swung momentum back in favor of Trine with a 26-25 edge. Following a point by the Tomcats that tied the teams at 26-26, Trine got the final two points on a kill by junior Hunter Monday (Beech Grove, Ind./Roncalli) and a Thiel error to claim the 28-26 victory and move closer in the overall match, 2-1.
Trine took an early 3-0 lead in the fourth set that included a pair of kills by Dixon. Thiel came right back and later took the lead thanks to five unanswered points, but Trine eventually took the lead back and led, 10-9, following a kill by freshman Luke Maier (Colorado Springs, Colo./Doherty). The Tomcats then regained control and distance themselves enough to maintain a lead the rest of the way en route to posting a 25-22 win in the set and the 3-1 overall match victory.
Dixon and Santiago-Garcia led the Thunder offensively against Thiel with 14 and 11 kills, respectively. Monday set up the Trine attack with 21 of the team's 27 assists. Dixon also led the team in aces with two to round out the offensive leaders.
On defense, Trine had one player finish in double figures in digs with freshman Blake Grosse (Belleville, Ill./Belleville Twp. West) finishing with 10. Monday was second with seven digs and Santiago-Garcia added four digs. Santiago-Garcia also led the team in blocks with two total, both solo blocks.
Against Thomas More, the two teams played a tight first set with both squads swapping leads early. Trailing by a point, 13-12, Trine took the advantage with four consecutive points highlighted by a kill by Santiago-Garcia and an ace by Monday, that made the score, 16-13. Trine went on to lead by as many as seven points on two occasions, including the final score of 25-18.
The Thunder then took a 2-0 match lead thanks to a lopsided, 25-10, victory in set number two. The set remained close until late when the Thunder closed the set with 15 straight points that included five kills by Dixon during the stretch.
In the third set, Thomas More led by three points early, 5-2, but Trine came back to tie the score and eventually took the lead for good on a service error by the Saints that made the score, 8-7. The two teams battled to a 16-16 tie later in the set, but Trine then got a little breathing room with consecutive points that included a kill by Boren. The two-point margin would give Trine the difference it needed as the Thunder went on to lead by as many as four points and went on to post the 25-23 set win and the 3-0 match sweep.
Dixon ended the match against Thomas More with 11 kills and was followed by Santiago-Garcia with nine kills. Monday tallied 23 assists to lead the team and also led the team in aces with three.
Grosse tallied a match-tying high seven digs and Maier led the Trine blockers with two total blocks (one solo and one assist).
Trine will travel to Adrian, Mich. to take on Adrian College on Tuesday, Feb. 12 in a non-conference matchup. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.