Trolls Grab NAIA Opening Round Victory

In an exciting five-set match the Trolls upset No. 17 Bellevue University (Nebraska) in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round. Playing on the Bruins’ home court the Trolls got off to a shaky start, but rallied back for the victory. After trading wins at 9-25, 26-24, 21-25, and 25-20 in the first four sets, it came down to the final set that Trinity took in a 15-13 final. The Trolls advance to the NAIA National Championship final site in Sioux City, Iowa on December 3-7.

With some tournament jitters, the Trolls did not make a good impression in the first set as they faltered to get anything going and failed to get into double digit scoring. The team registered only two kills for the set as they lost 25-9.

Trinity was able to put the first set behind them and begin to find their game in the second set. They took the lead at 7-6 and never gave it up, although late in the set Bellevue tied the score at 22-22 and again at 24-24. An attacking error by the Bruins put the Trolls at set point and a service ace by Brooke Blazekovich gave the team the win.

The third set was tied multiple times in its early stages before Bellevue took the lead at 18-13. On three consecutive kills the Trolls closed the gap to 22-21, but the Bruins gained the final three points for the 25-21 win.

Digging even deeper the Trolls came back in the fourth set to make the match even again. With more kills and more blocks than the Bruins Trinity got the needed plays to control the score. They stretched a 13-10 lead to an 18-11 gap. Still with a five point advantage at 23-18, the Trolls finished strong for the 25-20 victory.

With the match on the line, the intensity of the fifth set reached a new level. Of the first seven points of set, six were scored on kills. At that point the Trolls had a 4-3 lead. The teams continued to battle back and forth and were deadlocked five times with the last tie at 12-12. A kill by Kaitlin Feddema put the Trolls on top and an attack error by Bellevue gave them set and match point. The Bruins kept their chances alive with a kill on the next play, but it was not enough as Feddema put the ball away one more time for the 15-13 win.

For the match the Trolls had 45 kills and a .100 attack percentage while Bellevue registered 67 kills on a .158 attack percentage. Trinity won the blocking battle with 16 blocks to the Bruins’ seven. The Trolls had 78 digs and Bellevue had 92.  Individually Kaitlin Feddema led the team with 15 kills and 18 digs. Jessica Wiltjer ended with 10 kills and eight blocks. Both Kaitlin Van Dellen and Kirsten Harms were involved in six blocks.  Ellie Raebel led the back row defense with 26 digs while Erynn Schuh added 15 to go with her 38 assists and four blocks.

The Trolls will advance in a field of 24 teams to the 34th Annual NAIA National Championship at the Tyson Center in Sioux City, Iowa on December 3-7.  Teams will be divided into six pools of four teams for round robin play on December 3-5 and the 12 top teams from pool play will move on to a single-elimination tournament to determine the national champion. The final site pool play format will be released on Sunday, November 24, at 5 pm. For more tournament information can be found on the NAIA web site.