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Titans thwart New England’s comeback bid

In the first two sets of their home match against New England, the Dickinson Trinity, which had raced out to 7-3 and 15-3 scores, showed the Tigers just how hard it is to come back from an early deficit.

Dickinson Trinity outside hitter Sarah Kerkman goes up for one of her 10 kills against New England Tuesday night at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Samuel Evers / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson Trinity outside hitter Sarah Kerkman goes up for one of her 10 kills against New England Tuesday night at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Samuel Evers / The Dickinson Press)

In the first two sets of their home match against New England, the Dickinson Trinity, which had raced out to 7-3 and 15-3 scores, showed the Tigers just how hard it is to come back from an early deficit.

In sets three and four, New England was glad to return the favor.

Finally, the Titans (16-11, 6-0 Region 7) pulled themselves together in a decisive fifth set, taking a 15-9 win and avoiding a big collapse in the process.

"We definitely lost focus and got comfortable. We thought that we could just keep going the way we were going," said senior Sarah Kerkman, who finished with 10 kills and 12 digs. "In the third and fourth set we came out slow. We dug ourselves a big hole, we knew we had to start strong and get the momentum at the beginning of the final set."

Missing from the lackluster third and fourth sets, Trinity's charge was present from the beginning of the final one. The Titans jumped out to a crucial 4-1 lead and kept the Tigers at bay long enough to eventually claim the win.

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According to head coach Breanna Messer, there was one key difference.

"Communication is a big part of volleyball, and when we don't have that we make mistakes. There were times tonight when the communication wasn't quite there," she said. "Going into that fifth set, we realized this was a need-to-win situation and we were talking, being loud and calling the ball. The communication was a lot better."

Sarah Mayer led the team in kills with 16, Alexa Walby had 36 assists and Abby Jones had 23 digs. The major difference between the two teams, though, was in the serving department.

As a team, the Titans registered eight services aces. Conversely, in the first set alone, the Tigers had four service errors that helped give Trinity the momentum for the remainder of that set and into the second one. In the fifth set, New England committed two other crucial service errors.

"We made quite a few mental mistakes. We served pretty poorly tonight, which we know we need to clean up," said New England head coach Taylor Hafner. "Momentum came back to our side, and we just made too many mental mistakes. Trinity did a good job finding those areas that were killing us and putting us down in the fifth game."

The match for Trinity was quite the contrast to their last two home games - both sweeps. Right when it looked like this one, too, may be nice and easy, the Tigers turned it into an exciting one. Having recently experienced both breezy and close wins of late, Kerkman said there is no doubt which one she prefers.

"I'll take a clean sweep," she said, laughing. "I think we're capable of doing clean sweeps, but we just get down and lose focus. We needed to go all the way through all three sets."

Dickinson Trinity 3, New England 2

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DT 25 25 17 21 15 - 3

NE 11 15 25 25 9 - 2

Kills: DT, Sarah Mayer 16, Sarah Kerkman 10, Masy Kuntz 6.

Blocks: DT, Masy Kuntz 2, Lauren Stafford 1.

Aces: DT, farrah Zeller 4, Kuntz 2, Abby Jones 1, Abby Pavlicek 1.

Digs: Jones 23, Pavlicek 16, Kerkman, Zeller 10.

Assists: Alexa Walby 36.

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