Trolls clinch South Division volleyball title
It’s good to be a Trinity Christian College volleyball player these days because success follows success.
Last week was no exception: two matches, six sets, and only one of those sets was close. Thus, it was two more victories for the Trolls, giving them 32 on the season and 16 within the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
That latter figure added up to a CCAC South Division title for Trinity and, with it, the top seed for the conference playoffs, which commence on Tuesday. The Trolls, who received a smattering of votes in the most recent NAIA poll, will host an as-yet-undetermined foe.
Trinity knocked off Purdue University Calumet and Indiana University-South Bend last week, and didn’t have to work up much of a sweat against either opponent. The Trolls blew past the Peregrines 25-13, 25-11, 25-13 and dispatched IUSB with only slightly more difficulty, 26-24, 25-11, 25-13.
Trinity’s offense often comes from the superior setting of Erynn Schuh — 70 assists last week on 151 winning points — while everyone seems to help out on defense. Jessica Wiltjer’s nine blocks in the Trolls’ 12-block effort against IUSB stands out numerically.
All that’s left before the playoffs is tonight’s season-ending showdown with the University of St. Francis at home. Then comes the wait to see who will serve as Trinity’s first-round playoff foe.
Success in the CCAC playoffs would lead to further postseason action in either the NAIA or National Christian College Athletic Association tournament. The Trolls have been at it since Aug. 20, but the season is really just beginning now.
• Record: 32-7 overall, 16-1 CCAC, 9-0 home, 8-1 away, 15-6 neutral. Leaders: Kaitlin Feddema 371 kills; Erynn Schuh 45 aces; Ellie Raebel 488 digs; Jessica Wiltjer 148 blocks.
• Schedule: Today, vs. University of St. Francis, 7 p.m.; Tuesday, CCAC playoffs, TBA.
It may be the storm before the calm, given the schedule, but the Trolls’ season-opening 75-62 victory over Indiana University-Kokomo is exactly what coach Brandon Nicol ordered.
There was offensive teamwork — 15 assists on 20 field goals — to go with a quartet of double-figure scorers and a 54-25 rebounding edge. Freshman Jared Jones, who hails from Des Moines and hit a few of his half-dozen 3-pointers from almost that far away, paced Trinity with 22 points. That showing was the opening salvo in Jones’ bid to replace B.J. Wortham as the Trolls’ go-to scoring threat.
With Jake Van Den Berg adding 15 points and a team-high 19 rebounds, Ezekiel Odonkor scoring 13 while pulling down 12 boards, and Cody Rhorer tossing in 12 points, Nicol’s plan to spread out the scoring worked against the Cougars.
Now comes the hard part. The schedule gets progressively tougher, starting with games against Northwestern College and Dordt in the former’s tournament in Orange City, Iowa.
And once conference play starts, the realigned CCAC has Trinity in the North with three nationally ranked teams: No. 1 Cardinal Stritch, No. 6 Robert Morris and No. 11 St. Xavier. The Trolls will play each powerhouse twice.
And that’s just fine with Nicol.
“This is how I’m wired,” Nicol said. “I like playing the best.”
He’ll get his wish.
• Record: 1-0 overall, 0-0 CCAC, 1-0 home, 0-0 away, 0-0 neutral. Leaders: Jared Jones 22.0 ppg., 6 assists, 1 steal; Jake Van Den Berg 19.0 rpg.
• Schedule: Friday, at Northwestern College, 8 p.m.; Saturday, vs. Dordt, at Northwestern College, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesday, at Huntington, 6 p.m. CT; Nov. 15, vs. Great Lakes Christian, 8 p.m.
The Trolls are rolling into the playoffs.
A 4-0 rout of Cardinal Stritch and 2-1 victory over Judson University in the regular-season finale stretched their winning streak to six matches entering Saturday’s CCAC playoff quarterfinal match against a foe that was undetermined at press time. Trinity is 10-1-1 since mid-September and atop the CCAC with a 9-1-1 record, pending the outcome of 9-1 Robert Morris’ match against St. Xavier, which was played this past Tuesday.
The Trolls are, along with the Eagles and Olivet Nazarene University, one of the favorites for the conference playoff title. It’s due to superior defensive play — only 16 goals allowed in 18 matches, with netminders Becky Gold (0.87) and Liz Schutte (0.88) both sporting sub-one goals-against averages — and an ability to finish plays offensively.
Only Robert Morris and the Tigers, at 3.56 and 3.12, respectively, score more than Trinity’s average of precisely three goals per match. And only Olivet has forced more corner kicks, a key measure of offensive aggressiveness.
The victory over Judson was a textbook case. The Trolls outshot their opponent 23-7, had eight corners to Judson’s one, and captured the victory on Bekah Gonzales’ penalty kick with 2:56 left in regulation. Gonzales had been fouled by Jamie Wimberly in the penalty area and then beat Judson keeper Sara Hoffman with a shot.
Schutte collected her second shutout of the season in the romp over Stritch, with Rachael Webb, Cassidy Bosselaar, Brooke Ellis and Tarryn South all scoring for Trinity. Webb’s marker 59 seconds in was all the Trolls would need, thanks to Gold stopping the three shots the Wolves put on goal.
• Record: 14-2-2 overall, 9-1-1 CCAC, 8-1-1 home, 6-1-1 away, 0-0 neutral. Leaders: Goals: Rachael Webb 16 goals, 7 assists, 39 points; Becky Gold, 0.87 goals-against average, .852 save percentage (75 saves, 13 goals against, 6 shutouts).
• Schedule: Saturday, CCAC playoff quarterfinals at Schaaf Field.
Two road losses by more than 20 points wasn’t the start coach Reggie Chappel wanted for his second season at the Trolls’ helm.
Trinity dropped Friday night’s opener 74-51 at Indiana University Northwest, then fell 84-63 to the Lancers of Grace College, the 20th-ranked team in the NAIA preseason survey.
Poor shooting, which was last year’s problem, was back for a second helping. The Trolls connected on just 27 percent of their attempts from the floor against Indiana Northwest and 36 percent opposite Grace. Brooke Bambrick (13 points) and Allie Paluchniak (12) were Trinity’s respective scoring leaders in those contests.
Rebounding-wise, the Trolls earned a split as they edged Indiana Northwest 45-44 on the glass before coming up short versus the Lancers by a 44-28 margin.
• Record: 0-2 overall, 0-0 CCAC, 0-0 home, 0-2 away, 0-0 neutral. Leaders: Allie Paluchniak 12.0 ppg.; Paluchniak, Brooke Bambrick, Sara Losacco 4.5 rpg.; Cody Caitlin 4 assists; 4 players with 3 steals.
• Schedule: Tuesday, vs. St. Ambrose University, 6 p.m.; Friday, at Indiana Wesleyan, 5 p.m. CT; Saturday, vs. Shawnee State at Indiana Wesleyan Tournament, noon CT; Nov. 16, at Spring Arbor, 1 p.m.; Nov. 18, vs. Moody Bible Institute, 6 p.m.; Nov. 20, at Robert Morris University; Nov. 23, vs. Greenville University.
A pair of losses marked the conclusion of the 2013 season and extended the Trolls’ end-of-year losing streak to five matches.
Trinity dropped a 2-1 decision to Cardinal Stritch and fell 3-2 to Judson in Saturday’s finale. Of the Trolls’ 12 losses, seven came by only one goal, including the last four.
Mauricio Sagaldo scored in each of the final two matches, running his season total to a team-leading seven goals. Emmanuel Yanquaye added a marker in the loss to Judson, which tied the match at 2-all with just under 19 minutes to play. However, Santiago Munoz hammered the second of his two goals past Trinity keeper Rick Fawkes with 4:25 remaining to give Judson the victory at Schaaf Field.
At 5-12-1 overall and 2-9 in the CCAC, Trinity finished 11th in the 12-team conference, out of the playoffs for the second year in succession and third time in the last five seasons.
• Record: 5-12-1 overall, 2-9 CCAC, 3-6 home, 2-6-1 away. Leaders: Mauricio Salgado 7 goals, 16 points; Richie Carillo 4 assists; Gabe Fennema 1.80 goals-against average, .716 save percentage (63 saves, 25 goals against); Rick Fawkes 1 shutout.
• Schedule: Season over.
Saturday brings the CCAC Championship meet, hosted by Calumet College of St. Joseph at Sunset Hills Farm in Valparaiso, Ind. Trinity’s Andy Reidsma is one of the favorites for the men’s individual title, while Anna Bos could contend for the women’s crown.
• Men’s top times (8K): Andy Reidsma, 25:01.05, Oct. 26; Michael Potter, 26:28.8, Sept. 13, Tyrell Natewa, 26:39.7, Sept. 13; Cody Velthuizen, 26:40.88, Oct. 26; Chris Koutavas, 27:00.98, Sept. 6; Joshua Whitten, 29:00.17, Oct. 26; Mark Bohdan, 29:22.75, Oct. 26.
• Women’s top times (5K/6K): Anna Bos, 18:53.94, Oct. 26; 24:04.5, Oct. 5; Jessica Disselkoen, 19:19.33, Oct. 26; 24:10.1, Oct. 5; Ashley Jourdan, 19:28.96, Oct. 26; 25:08.3, Oct. 5; Hannah Schwab, 19:44.7, Sept. 13; Justin VanDyk, 20:29.1, Sept. 13; 26:08.1, Oct. 5.
• Schedule: Saturday, CCAC Championship, at Sunset Hills Farm, Valparaiso, Ind., 11 a.m.