ANGOLA, IND. -- The Trine University men's volleyball team came away with a two-match split defeating Marantha Baptist (Wis.) University, 3-0, but fell to Greenville (Ill.) University in five sets, 3-2, in a non-conference tri-match at Hershey Hall.
In its first match of the day against Greenville, Trine (4-12) fell behind 2-0 in the match after dropping the first two sets, 25-18 and 25-20. The Thunder offense found a spark in the third set as Trine posted a .375 hitting percentage and committed just two attack errors. Trine took control of the set and opened up to a 12-4 lead on its way to leading by as many as 10 points that included a 20-10 advantage following a service error by the Panthers. Greenville would make it interesting down the stretch by getting to within five points, 24-19, but a kill by freshman Dan Boren (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) sealed the win for the Thunder by a final of 25-19, and avoided the match sweep to trail, 2-1.
The fourth set saw Trine continue to post solid offensive numbers with a total of 16 kills in the game, including five kills from freshman Kyle Dixon (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Twp.) and four kills from Boren. Both teams kept the score close in the early goings, but Trine gradually began to pull away and took a sizeable nine-point edge that was aided by a streak of five straight points to make it an 18-9 game in favor of the home team. Greenville looked to take momentum back by narrowing the gap to three points, 24-21, late in the set. Dixon then gave Trine the win with a kill that was set up by junior Hunter Monday (Beech Grove, Ind./Lutheran) to make the final, 25-21, and deadlocked the match at two games apiece.
In the fifth and deciding set, the Panthers grabbed the early advantage and led by as many as four points. Trine kept Greenville within reach and fought back to even the score and then took a 14-13 lead after a kill by freshman Luke Maier (Colorado Springs, Colo./Doherty). Greenville then recorded back-to-back points to regain the lead, 15-14. Dixon tallied his match-high 26th kill on the next point to even the teams again on the scoreboard, 15-15. But Greenville got the final two points it needed on a kill that was followed by an ace to claim the set, 17-15, and the overall match by a final of 3-2.
Dixon recorded his 26 kills on 45 attempts and finished with a .400 overall hitting percentage. Freshman Eric Santiago-Garcia (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Glen Ridge) was second with 13 kills and Boren had 10 kills to round out the leaders. Monday had a match-tying high 51 assists with freshman Blake Grosse (Belleville, Ill./Belleville Twp. West) finishing second with four assists. Santiago-Garcia also led all players in aces with four against the Panthers.
On defense, two players recorded double-digit totals in digs with Grosse finishing with a match-high 18. Santiago-Garcia followed with 14 digs. At the net, Maier led both teams in blocks with three solo and Santiago-Garcia added a pair of solo blocks.
Against Marantha, Trine outlasted the Sabercats in the first set, 25-23, behind six of Boren's 12 total kills. Neither team led by more than three points during the game and the two squads battled to a 23-23 tie late. But back-to-back kills by Dixon and Maier sealed the victory for the Thunder who went on to win by the final of 25-23.
Trine had an easier going in the second set offensively as the Thunder recorded a .474 hitting percentage as a team. The Thunder jumped out to an early 6-1 margin and never looked back on their way to leading by as many as 11 points on two occasions, including a 19-8 lead after a Marantha service error. The Sabercats never threatened the Thunder lead as Trine cruised to a 25-16 final to take a commanding 2-0 advantage in the match.
Both team's offenses struggled in the third set as the squads combined for 28 errors on the offensive side of the ball. Trine led by as many as five points and would withstand a streak of four straight service errors that resulted in the score being deadlocked at 19-19. Marantha eventually took a one-point margin, 21-20, before three consecutive points put Trine back out in front, 23-21. The two-point margin would be enough room for Trine as a pair of kills by Santiago-Garcia ended the set and gave the Thunder a 25-22 set win and the overall match sweep, 3-0.
Boren's 12 kills led the team and tied for the match high. He posted an impressive .647 hitting percentage and also had a pair of aces offensively. Dixon was second in kills with nine and Santiago-Garcia added eight kills. Monday again set up the attack with 33 of the team's 37 assists and he also led both teams in aces with three. Dixon and Santiago-Garcia also tied Boren with two aces each.
Grosse was the lone Trine player to record 10 or more digs with a match-high 13 and was followed by Monday with seven digs. At the net, the duo of senior Grant Tingley (Angola, Ind./Angola) and Santiago-Garcia led the way with two total blocks apiece. Tingley had a solo block and assisted on another, while Santiago-Garcia had two solo blocks.
Trine will be idle until March 1 when it opens Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League play in a road match against North Central (Ill.) College in Naperville, Ill. The match is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. EST.