IRVING, Texas — Four different Southwestern University Pirates volleyball players finished with at least 10 kills to upset Trinity University, giving Southwestern a third to make it to a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) championship match on Sunday. (Men's and women's soccer also advanced).
Jamison Duck led a balanced Pirate attack, filling up the box score with 14 kills, 18 digs, three block assists and three service aces to defeat No. 2 seed Trinity for the first time in three attempts this season.
"The staff looks towards this time of year to see how the team is focusing and growing," Head Coach Don Flora said. "We proved we are focusing on the correct areas of training and being able to handle a game plan."
The Pirates have come a long way from their three-set loss to Trinity in September but struggled to closeout matches against nationally ranked teams in October; ending the season with a five-set loss to Trinity.
On Saturday, Southwestern showed off a diverse offense firing on all cylinders, beating Trinity in efficiency in all but one set, winning in four (25-23, 26-24, 11-25, 25-21).
Southwestern started strong with 19 kills in the first set, where freshman Haven Cathey contributed five of her 10 kills for the match as the Pirates finished each of the first two sets with few errors.
"We started really strong, pushing point for point [with Trinity] until a lull in the third set," Cathey said. "But we were determined to finish strong in the fourth and not get to a fifth set."
The Pirates took three five-set losses after early leads against nationally ranked Texas-Tyler, Mary Hardin-Balr, and Trinity in October and faltered in the third set in the conference semifinals, committing 13 attacks errors to drop the set 25-11, finishing with a -.205 hitting percentage.
Southwestern began the fourth set sluggish, falling behind 4-1, but called to tie the set at seven and take the 25-21 victory.
"This was a battle of high quality volleyball," Flora said. "Being clean late in the first two sets is a clear sign of these teammates sticking together.
Makenzie Mendez finished with 43 assists and 14 digs, spreading the ball around for her hitters and putting them in good situations. Alyssa Dooley finished with 13 kills, hitting .273 and Lauren Crabtree had 10 kills and 13 digs. Brandi Campos had a match-high 25 digs.
"Having four attackers in double-digit kills continues to be a good sign of our offensive balance," Flora said. "We also want to continue to be mindful in the serving and passing component of our game plan."
Southwestern will play top-seeded Colorado College in the Championship match tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.