By Will Fairfax, Sports Writer
The women's volleyball team suffered a heartbreaking loss 3-2 (12-25, 25-20, 19-25, 27-25, 15-11) to Goshen after failing to capitalize on six match points at the end of the fourth set.
The Trojans started off with a 7-1 run in the first set, which propelled them to a 25-12 win. They began set two with a 7-3 lead before Goshen came back and won 25-20.
With the score at 6-5 in the third set Taylor won 10 of the next 13 points, leading them to a 25-19 win.
The Trojans broke away late in the fourth set, opening up a 24-18 lead before chaos ensued. The Maple Leafs were backed against the wall, but they fought off six match points and won the set 27-25.
Goshen opened up a 5-1 lead to start set 5. Taylor fought back to get the match to 8-10 before Goshen took control and won the match 15-11.
"We responded pretty well to what Goshen was doing, but Goshen is a team that when it's close, they gain momentum from that," said Head Coach Brittany Smith. "We're a team where, when it's close and we don't find rhythm with defending our serve, we struggle with confidence. The closer a game is for this team, the harder it was going to be for us to execute."
Senior libero Courtney Herschberger said her team was afraid of making a mistake when they had six straight match points.
"It simply came down to errors and also a little bit of fear," Herschberger said. "We made one or two errors, and then we became timid and feared making another mistake."
The Trojans finished the season 20-17 (13-5 in conference) and ended on a six-game losing streak.
Although this postseason was a disappointment, this team can still be proud of their past successes.
They made three NAIA national appearances, including one appearance in the final 12 teams. They won three straight MCC regular season championships and two MCC tournament championships. They also helped lead Taylor to 41 straight MCC regular season wins.
The senior class also helped continue the great tradition of Taylor women's volleyball, as the program now has 25 consecutive winning seasons.
Taylor graduates five seniors this spring, including Herschberger, who is a four-year starter at libero. She registered 30 digs against Goshen to bring her career total to 2,891. She is Taylor's all time dig leader and is in the top 10 in the NAIA all-time list.
"Coming in as a freshman, I would never have expected to have come this far," Herschberger said. "It really shows what a great program Taylor Volleyball is. Taking a player that was an outsider hitter in high school and converting me into the all-time dig leader, ranked in the top 10 in the NAIA, is a true tribute to all the time that the coaches, managers and fellow teammates put in to help me get to this point."
Smith smiled when reflecting on all the great memories that she has had with her five seniors.
"This class is my fun class," Smith said. "We used to joke around a lot when they were freshman. It's been great to see them become amazing competitors, athletes and leaders in our program."