(Story courtesy of the Trinity University athletics website)
GEORGETOWN, Texas - Trinity's fourth-ranked volleyball team opened the NCAA Playoffs with a hard-fought loss to Pacific Lutheran (WA) University on Friday afternoon.
The Tigers dropped the opening set 25-16, but rallied with a 25-19 win in the second. Pacific Lutheran finished off the win with two narrow victories, winning 25-23 and 27-25.
The only lead of the opening set for the Tigers came early with a 2-1 margin, but the Lutes scored four straight to go in front and never looked back. Trinity stayed close, but Pacific Lutheran scored eight of the final 10 points to take the early advantage.
The second set was almost the exact opposite, as this time it was Trinity which turned an early 2-1 deficit into a lead after six consecutive points and a 7-2 lead. The Lutes closed to within two points late in the match, but after Trinity gained control of the game by scoring five of six points to take a 22-16 lead, the Tigers were able to tie the match 1-1.
In the third, Pacific Lutheran started with a 6-0 run, but Trinity stormed back to tie things up 7-7. The Tigers stayed close and eventually took their first lead at 18-17. After a 22-19 Trinity lead, though, Pacific Lutheran rattled off six of the next seven points to steal the win and take a 2-1 lead.
Trinity used a 5-0 run to break a 7-7 tie in the fourth set, but Pacific Lutheran had the same run to tie things up again at 12-12. The Tigers finally got some room late with a 23-20 lead, but the Lutes scored three straight to tie things up once again. Pacific Lutheran's first lead of the set came at 25-24, and though Trinity tied things up 25-25, the Lutes scored the next two points to clinch the win.
Fifth-seeded Trinity falls to 27-8 this season with its second straight loss, while the #4 seed Lutes improved to 21-4 this season.
This marks the second straight season that the Tigers have been eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Playoffs, though it is just the fourth time Trinity has lost its playoff opener in 23 years playing in the tournament.
Katrina Lieberman posted a double-double with 50 assists and 12 digs for the Tigers. It marks the fifth time this season she has had 50 or more assists – including each of the last three matches.
With the 50 assists, Lieberman becomes the 12th player in Trinity volleyball history to reach 1,000 assists in a career.
Sarah Mullens led Trinity with 19 digs in the loss, which also makes her the 13th player in school history to record 1,500 or more in a career.
Madeline McKay led Trinity with 17 kills, while Kirby Smith had a double-double of 13 kills and 12 digs. McKay also added eight digs and four blocks.
Amelia Roden chipped in with 17 digs, while Annie Rose Leggett finished with 11. Maggie Linker and Avery Tuggle had 10 kills each, and Linker added a team-high five blocks.