ADRIAN, MICH. -- Freshmen Eric Santiago-Garcia (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Glen Ridge) and Kyle Dixon (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Twp.) had 19 and 18 kills to lead the Trine University men's volleyball team, but the Thunder fell short of Adrian (Mich.) College, 3-1, in Adrian, Mich.
Trine (3-11) fell behind in the first set, 8-3, but four straight points by the Thunder that included kills by Dixon and junior Hunter Monday (Beech Grove, Ind./Roncalli) cut the deficit to a point at 8-7. Trine could not take the lead, however, as Adrian (6-5) quickly extended the margin back out to five points. Trailing by six points late, the Thunder made a final run at the home team with a 6-1 scoring run, including a string of four straight points highlighted by a pair of kills by Santiago-Garcia and another kill by Dixon, that made it a one-point game, 21-20, in favor of the Bulldogs. But Adrian ended the set with four straight points to win 25-20 and take an overall 1-0 match lead.
The second set saw Trine open up to a 7-2 advantage and maintained a three-point edge later in the game, 18-15, following a kill by freshman Josh Cook (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mariemont). Adrian then scored six unanswered points to take the lead, 21-18, and led the rest of the way. Trine made it a one-point deficit, 22-21, late, but the Bulldogs tallied the final points it needed to take the set, 25-21, and a commanding 2-0 match lead.
Trine had a four-point advantage in the third set, 7-3, thanks to four consecutive points highlighted by an ace by Dixon and a kill by freshman Dan Boren (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead). The Thunder later extended the lead to as many as six points that included a 17-11 margin after a kill by Dixon. The home team worked its way back into the set and narrowed the gap down to a point on two occasions with the last one being a 21-20 deficit. An error by the Bulldogs, gave Trine a two-point edge which turned out to be all it needed as the visitors went on to win the set, 25-23, and pull to within a game of Adrian, 2-1.
Adrian took a commanding lead to start the fourth set by scoring seven straight points. Despite the large deficit, Trine chipped away and battled its way to tie Adrian on the scoreboard multiple times with the last tie being a score of 20-20 as the result of another kill by Dixon. Santiago-Garcia then tallied a kill to give the Thunder the lead, 21-20, but the set would end in similar fashion as it began with the Bulldogs going on a scoring streak, this time of five points to claim the set, 25-21, and the overall match, 3-1.
Santiago-Garcia and Dixon combined for 37 of the team's 52 total kills. Boren was third with six kills and the duo of Monday and freshman Luke Maier (Colorado Springs, Colo./Doherty) both had four kills.
Monday had 47 out of the team's 51 assists and Maier had a match-tying high three aces to round out the offensive leaders.
Defensively, Trine had a pair of players finish with 10 or more digs in freshmen Raviel Winters (Elwood, Ill./Joilet Central) and Blake Grosse (Belleville, Ill./Belleville Twp. West). Winters had a match-high 14 digs, while Grosse added 13 digs.
At the net, Santiago-Garcia, Maier and Boren all had a match-high five total blocks. Santiago-Garcia and Boren both had five assisted blocks and Boren recorded one solo block and four assists.
Trine will host a tri-match on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Hershey Hall and will go up against Greenville (Ill.) University and Marantha Baptist (Wis.) University. The Thunder will begin the day with the matchup against Greenville at 11 a.m.