SAN ANTONIO -- In a winner move-on, loser-go-home match in the final of the NCAA Division III volleyball regional hosted by Trinity (Texas) it was a battle to the end with visiting Cal Lutheran devasting Trinity (Texas). CLU dropped the first set, but went on to win 3-1 (16-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-23) erasing numerous deficits to secure a spot in the 2013 NCAA Division III round of 16 in Michigan next week.
The first point of the match was an indication of how the entire contest would go with both teams aggressive and fired up with tons of energy. After disposing of early jitters, the Regals rallied back behind a 20-kill performance from tournament Most Outstanding Player Kylie McLogan. Joining the senior on the all-tournament team were sophomore Allie Eason and senior Jackie Russell. Each impacted the games tremendously Sunday, as did every single Regals player.
Pua Mo’okini-Oliveira had a career day with 16 kills, Eason tallied 14 and Lauren Rohach put down eight, many in clutch spots. Russell handed out a match-high 45 assists while Jena Chavez chipped in with 11. McLogan and Eason finished with 19 and 18 digs, respectively, and Nicki Tetherow recorded 10. Another strong defensive performance was paced by Hayley Tamagni who contributed with a pair of solo blocks, also recording two assists while Rohach notched three block assists and McLogan had a pair.
Unfortunately for the Regals, the first set went to Trinity behind a loud and rowdy student section. The Tigers took a 10-2 lead, with both CLU points coming by way of Mo’okini-Oliveira. On the next serve the ball landed atop the hanging scoreboard in Sam’s Gymnasium to force a re-play of the point and Rohach got her first kill of the day, but the teams exchanged the next eight points and CLU was unable to shift the momentum in its favor, falling 25-16.
Trailing one set to none and down 6-0 in the second, the Regals quickly cut that deficit in half, looking to three different players for kills. Mo’okini-Oliveira got CLU on the board before Tamagni tipped a ball over that found the floor and Easonfollowed up with a kill of her own. After another pair of kills from Mo’okini-Oliveira, Cal Lutheran, trailing 10-5, made its move.
The Regals earned nine consecutive points to turn a five-point deficit into a 14-10 lead, with Eason back to serve for eight points that included kills from McLoganand Rohachbefore the senior duo teamed up for a block that evened the score at 10-10. McLogan would get the kill to put CLU ahead for good and a pair of attacking errors and a ball handling error by the Tigers gave the Regals a four-point cushion. TU made a push, pulling within one at 17-16, but again the Violet and Gold strung together a series of four consecutive points behind Tamagni serves to open the gap back up to five at 21-16. McLogan, Eason and Rohach all notched kills down the stretch before Eason ended the set on a service ace.
After the 10-minute intermission the teams came back to the court to proceed, each looking for two more victories.
CLU earned the first point of the set for the first time Sunday by way of an Eason kill, her first of two in a row, but again things were rocky for the Regals as an 8-4 advantage slowly withered away. With numerous ties and lead changes throughout the middle of the game, CLU used a series of Kenney Peters’ serves to scored four points and erase a one-point discrepancy, earning a 19-17 lead. The teams would not be separated by more than a pair until the final point, which came from an Eason kill.
In the fourth, once again Trinity opened with some momentum, taking a 4-0 lead to start. It pushed the gap to 8-2 and forced a CLU timeout. The Regals broke the huddle to score three of the next four points and minutes later pulled the teams within three at 11-8. The feisty Tigers continued to lead until Russell knotted things at 20-20 with an ace. Tied at 23-23, Eason put the Regals one point away from advancing and then finished off the set and match with another kill on an assist from Mo’okini-Oliveira, capping a career day for her, and sending the CLU sidelines into a frenzy.
Trinity (35-7) was paced by 14 kills from Maggie Emodi as the only TU player in double figures. Erika Edrington and Maryn Swierc handed out 23 and 21 assists, respectively. Defensively, TU joined forces for 12.5 blocks, eight coming from Kelsey Daniel, including one solo stop, and Shannon Courtney finished with a match-high 19 digs.
Cal Lutheran (33-1) advances to the round of 16 in Holland, Mich., that will get underway on Thursday against Clarkson.