Trinity Volleyball Falls to Eastern Connecticut State in Five-Set Battle on Opening Night

Rachel Underwood '19
Rachel Underwood '19

Hartford, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State ripped off two-straight set wins to clinch the game after finding themselves down, 2-1, against the Trinity College Bantams on Friday night in volleyball action at Oosting Gymnasium in Hartford. Trinity starts the year 0-1 despite a gutsy performance in front of the home crowd in the team's 2017 season opener and second game of the Trinity College Volleyball Invitational. The first game of the evening saw Clark University take care of business against Westfield State, earning a 3-1 victory. Eastern Connecticut State remains perfect at 5-0 and will face Clark tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. before a 2 p.m. game against Westfield State while the Bantams host Clark at noon and cap off the first weekend of the season with a 4 p.m. tilt versus Westfield State.

The Warriors cruised in the first set, jumping out to a 12-4 lead and never looking back. The Bantams responded later with a 4-0 run to cut the deficit to 15-11, but ECSU came back with a 5-0 run of their own, eventually taking the set, 25-16.

The opening half of the second set was a back and forth battle that saw Trinity the aggressor early as the hosts claimed a 5-0 lead to start things. The Warriors battled back to tie things at 14-14 before the two sides traded points to make it an 18-18 contest. That is when junior co-captain Rachel Underwood (Danville, Calif.) ripped off three straight kills to open up a 21-18 lead for the Bantams, forcing ECSU to call a timeout. Trinity scored twice out of the timeout to take a 23-18 lead and eventually won the set, 25-20, thanks to a missile from the left side by junior southpaw Hanna Engstrom (Hopkinton, Mass.) that landed in between a pair of Warriors.

Trinity won the third set, 25-17, to go up 2-1 in the game after climbing to an early, 9-4, advantage. The two team's went back and forth until a 3-0 run late in the set put the Bantams ahead 19-12. First-year Jessica Yang (Pacific Palisades, Calif.), who had an impressive collegiate debut with four aces and 44 assists, capped off the set win with a hard-hit ace that nobody on ECSU's side touched.

The Warriors cruised to a fourth set victory by the score of 25-18, to force a deciding fifth set. Trinity got out to a 4-0 lead in the final set which forced ECSU to call a timeout to regroup. Trinity went up 7-3 before a quick 3-0 run from ECSU cut the Bantam lead to just one. The two teams switched sides after the Bantams went ahead 8-6 but the Warriors rattled off a 9-3 run to end the set, taking it 15-11, and clinching the victory.

Sophomore Colette Scheffers (Flossmoor, Ill.) picked up where she left off last year, leading all players with 17 kills to go along with 16 digs. Underwood finished the night with 11 kills while Engstrom was the third Bantam to tally double-digit kills for the game with 12. First-year Ali Odermann (Lenexa, Kansas) had a strong showing in her collegiate debut, leading the Bantams with 20 digs and adding an ace. Alaetra Long (Lincoln, Neb.) led ECSU with 12 kills while Abby Stern (Manchester, Conn.) finished with 11 kills and Michelle Valliere (Lebanon, Conn.) led the team in digs.

In the evening's first game between Clark University and Westfield State, the Cougars cruised to a 3-1 victory to improve to 3-1 on the year. Clark saw three players finish with double-digit kills, led by junior Ana Mercado (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) who tallied a game-high 16. senior Jacqueline Jimenez-Maldonado (San Francisco, Calif.) and classmate Marina Ramos (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) each finished with 11 and Jimenez-Maldonado banged home a game-best four aces as well. The Owls were paced offensively by junior Brianna Starkey, who notched 10 kills for a .267 hitting percentage, but Clark managed 18 more kills on the evening than Westfield State.