Entering the Region 7 Tournament as the top seed, the Dickinson Trinity volleyball team earned a sweep in its quarterfinal match against New England, which included a 20-point victory in the second set.
However, the defending region champions have lots of work to do if they want to make a return trip to the big dance.
After pulling away late in the first frame, the Titans survived a late Tigers surge in the third, holding on for a 25-16, 25-5, 26-24 victory on Monday, Nov. 5, from the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
"We came out timid," Dickinson Trinity head coach Breanna Sisson said. "We lacked communication and we lacked that chemistry that we have had all season. I'm hoping it was just those first-game nerves and that we can kind of brush this off and go into tomorrow night with a more positive outlook."
The Titans jumped out to a 15-7 advantage in the third frame, but Sisson needed a timeout after the Tigers closed the gap to 17-16 thanks to a pair of kills from senior outside hitter Elizabeth Kaufman and a pair of aces from junior outside hitter Hadley Binstock.
New England tied the frame at 18, before sophomore middle blocker Abbey Kubas gave Dickinson Trinity a bit of breathing room with three kills, including an attack that established match-point.
"I just knew that I had to do what I could do to help the team win," Kubas said. "Whatever it was, I just wanted to help the team win."
With its season on the line, New England rallied back with a 4-0 run, tying the set at 24 with a kill from senior outside hitter Elizabeth Kaufman. The Tigers often worked the ball towards her side, and Kaufman delivered with a team-high eight kills.
"I thought we started clicking in the third and by that time, it was too late. It would've been nice if we started our competitive play a little bit sooner," New England head coach Kay Moody said. "Our senior Elizabeth Kaufman played a nice match for us. You like to have your senior play that hard and that well at the end. We would've liked to have extended play a little longer."
The Titans regained the lead and closed it out on an ace from senior outside hitter Farrah Zeller. Zeller and senior outside hitter Masy Kuntz each connected on five aces, and the Titans as a team had 12. Nonetheless, Sisson felt that her players lacked in their competitive nature.
"I think just (New England's) aggression and fire, they came out in the right mentality and we struggled with that because we were being so timid," Sisson said. "You could see they had a ton of motivation on their side of the net where we were kind of back on our heels because of that lack of energy and communication."
Dickinson Trinity's lone showing of dominance came in the second set as the Titans exploded out to a 13-2 advantage following a 10-0 run. The Titans had three separate surges of five consecutive points or more.
"We knew we just had to play our pace," Sisson said. "If we could keep pushing that fast-paced tempo, it would hopefully pull New England out of system, but New England was very scrappy today and I applaud their efforts."
No. 1 Dickinson Trinity 3, No. 8 New England 0
NE 16 5 24 - 0
DT 25 25 26 - 3
Kills: NE, Elizabeth Kaufman 8, Jersey Binstock 3, Shelley Kathrein 3. DT, Bre Tessier 12, Masy Kuntz 9, Farrah Zeller 5, Abbey Kubas 5, Amaya Willer 5.
Blocks: NE, None. DT, Kuntz 3, A. Kubas 3, Am. Willer 1.
Aces: NE, Kaufman 2, Hadley Binstock 2, J. Binstock 1. DT, Zeller 5, Kuntz 5, Tessier 1, Asia. Willer 1.
Digs: NE, J. Binstock 21, Kathrein 15, Angel Erickson 15. DT, Zeller 9, Alexa Walby 8, As. Willer 8, Tessier 7, Ali Daniel 6.
Assists: NE, Kathrein 7, Emily Dinius 6. DT, Walby 28, A. Kubas 4.
Records: NE, 13-24. DT, 35-5.