Atlanta – Day two of the Transylvania volleyball team's season was nearly as successful as the first, as the Pioneers split its final two matches at the Stormy Petrel Invitational on Saturday.
The Pioneers disposed of the Belhaven University Blazers, winning 3 sets to 1 in the morning match, before bowing in the fifth set in their evening game against the home team, the Oglethorpe University Stormy Petrels.
In both Saturday matches, the Pioneers encountered slow starts, dropping each of their respective first sets before finding their rhythm and going to work. While the Pioneers eventually ran out of gas in their fifth and final set of the grueling two day trek that witnessed four matches, Transylvania still found plenty of positives to hang their hat upon, along with a 3-1 record to begin the season.
"I was very happy with how we played overall," reflected Transylvania volleyball head coach Kyle Walton on the weekend. "Four matches are a lot to begin with, and for our team, we had a lot to sort through. We learned some things about ourselves which we are eager to get into the gym to work on."
In their first match of the day, Transylvania squared off with Belhaven in a 10:00 a.m. start. The Pioneers metaphorically, and possibly physically took time to awaken, as the Blazers snatched the first set from the Pioneers, winning 25-22 in part to five service aces by Belhaven.
Transylvania bounced back quickly in set number two, clinching a 25-18 win; the Pioneers defense locked down with 25 digs and 10 kills to spur a balanced attack.
From there, the Pioneers picked up additional steam and never looked back, winning each of the final two sets by the score of 25-17. The Pioneers took firm control in the final set, collecting a team-high five aces along with 12 kills.
Freshman Taryn Glass had another impactful game as she led the way in kills with 10 on the match, along with two digs. Sophomore Jennifer Buckman chimed in with nine kills and four digs, while freshmen Jordan Horne and Hannah Graff each added eight kills and a combined 12 digs between the two.
Junior Marissa Coutinho keyed a strong defense on the backline, leading the Pioneers with 27 digs; Hannah Talkers exceeded her brief career totals in assists with 36 for the game. Freshman Hadley Trenaman tallied 13 digs to aid in Transylvania's victory.
Transylvania's aggression was apparent, as the Pioneers won the kill category by a margin of plus-17, while winning the team assist battle, 45 to 29.
The Pioneers, after a long afternoon respite, wrapped up their trek to Atlanta with a match against the home team Oglethorpe.
The Stormy Petrels staved off the Pioneers in the first set as they captured an arduous first set that required 29 points to determine a winner. Transylvania immediately rebounded in the following set, eliminating any chance of deuce early on as they built a slim lead late and went on to a 25-21 win to knot the set at one-all.
Transylvania appeared ready to seize momentum in the third set as they captured a sizable 25-17 win to take a 2 sets to 1 lead.
But the Stormy Petrels answered back with a clutch 25-21 fourth set victory to force a decisive fifth set. Fighting off a long weekend of fatigue and pressure, the Pioneers could not come up with another 15 points for the would-be victory as the Stormy Petrels reached deep for a fifth set victory.
Despite falling just short of an opportunity to sweep the weekend, the Pioneers had a plethora of positive takeaways from the weekend. The final match featured a career-high 55 assists by freshman Talkers, who along with Coutinho, were named to the All-Stormy Petrel Challenge Team for their outstanding weekend-long efforts. In her final game in Atlanta, Coutinho added a game-high 35 digs to maintain a defensive upper hand for her team.
Glass led the Pioneers in kills with 18 in the final showing, while Buckman added 14 kills and 14 digs.
"Our freshman had a great opening weekend and Marissa had a really good weekend for us," said Walton on his macro view of the four-match performance.
The Pioneers now return home for a brief stay in Lexington as they play their first home game of the year on Wednesday, September 7 vs Berea at 7:00 p.m. before embarking on a string of 10 straight road games through the rest of the month.
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