ANGOLA, IND. -- The Trine University men's volleyball team ended its first week in its return as a varsity sport with a 1-2 overall record on the final day of a two-day home event at Hershey Hall in Angola, Ind.
The Thunder posted a victory against the University of Mount Union in its second match of the day, winning in straight sets, 3-0. Trailing, 4-3, in the first set against the Purple Raiders, Trine () recorded five straight points to take a 9-4 advantage. The Thunder continued to gain momentum and distance on the scoreboard with a series of 3-0 mini runs throughout the remainder of the match en route to the 25-14 first set victory. The second set was much closer between the two teams, but Trine would go on a streak of four straight points that included kills by freshman Eric Santiago-Garcia (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Glen Ridge) and freshman Kyle Dixon (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) for a 16-12 lead. Mount Union added four consecutive points of their own later in the set, but it was the Thunder who would prevail by the final of 25-23. In the final set, Mount Union led, 5-4, early, but a series of three points by the home squad allowed Trine to gain the breathing room it needed to go on to the 25-20 set win and the 3-0 overall victory.
Santiago-Garcia led the team in kills against the Purple Raiders with 11 to go along with a .292 hitting percentage. Junior Hunter Monday (Beach Grove, Ind./Roncalli) set up the offense with a match-high 27 assists and Dixon tallied a match-high three aces. Defensively, Monday tallied eight digs and a quartet of players each had a pair of blocks in Dixon, Santiago-Garcia, freshman Eric Reuther (Williamstown, N.J./Williamstown) and freshman Dan Boren (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead).
In Trine's other matches of the day, the Thunder dropped a 3-1 decision against Concordia University-Chicago (20-25, 25-20, 23-25, 22-25) and came up short in its final match to North Park (Ill.) University, 3-0 (15-25, 22-25, 25-27).
Against the Cougars, Dixon and Santiago-Garcia both led the Trine offense with 11 kills each. Boren was second with nine kills. Monday tallied 28 assists and Dixon led the service attack with a pair of aces. Freshman Blake Grosse (Belleville, Ill./Belleville Twp. West) led the team in digs with seven, followed by Monday with six digs and Dixon added five digs. Reuther led the team at the net with six total blocks (three assists and three solo), while freshman Luke Maier (Colorado Springs, Colo./Doherty) and Boren both added three blocks.
In the match against the Vikings, Santiago-Garcia and Dixon again the led the attack with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Monday accounted for 24 of the team's 27 set assists and Dixon added a pair of attacks in addition to his 10 kills. Three Trine players finished with 10 or more digs, led by Santiago-Garcia with a match-high 16 digs. Monday was second with 11 digs and Grosse had 10 digs. Up front, Boren tallied five blocks (all assists) to lead all players and the duo of Dixon and Monday each recorded three total blocks.
Trine will next travel to Dallas, Pa. to take part in the Misericordia Invitational next Friday-Saturday, Feb. 1-2. The Thunder will take on Randolph-Macon (Va.) College and host school Misericordia on the first day of competition with the match against Randolph-Macon starting at 6 p.m. followed by Misericordia at 8 p.m.