The No.18 Taylor volleyball team picked up a three-set sweep of Goshen last weekend, before dropping a tough five-set affair against Spring Arbor a day later, and a tough three-set loss to Indiana Wesleyan on Wednesday.
The Trojans made quick work of Goshen, winning the three sets by a combined score of 75-41. Seniors Grace Isaacs and Ryan Czerniak led the offensive attack against the Maple Leafs, as Isaacs picked up 12 kills, and Czerniak 9.
“We did a really good job executing our game plan and attacking against (Goshen),” senior Nikki Parrett said. “We knew what they were going to try to do towards us, and we did a good job picking up on those keys.”
The victory made history for the Taylor program, as it became only the second NAIA volleyball program to reach 1,300 wins. The team sits at 12-4 in Crossroads League play this season, with the only loss that wasn’t to undefeated and nationally-ranked Marian being in the aforementioned loss to Spring Arbor.
In that contest, TU went back and forth, as they dropped the first and third sets, but won the second and fourth. The final and deciding set went to Spring Arbor by a mark of 15-10. Taylor managed to cut the deficit in the final set to 9-10, but the Cougars won five of the frame’s last six points.
Czerniak and Isaacs again led the Trojans in offensive output with 19 and 18 kills, respectively. On the defensive end, senior Stephaney Fifield had 26 digs in the contest, with senior Nikki Parrett and junior Karli Ware combining for 25 digs.
TU outpaced Spring Arbor with 63 kills to the Cougars’ 52. However, errors hurt Taylor throughout the afternoon, as they made 11 more than their opposition.
“Not executing our game plan was where we fell short,” Parrett said of the performance against Spring Arbor. “But we can always grow from a situation like that, it’s humbling.”
The loss was only the third for TU since Sept. 10.
However, the loss to Indiana Wesleyan made it two in a row, and a fourth since Sept. 10. The defeat dropped the team to a .5 game lead for third place in the conference standings.
Now Taylor turns its focus to two final matchups this week — both inside Odle Arena. Wednesday’s bout with Mount Vernon Nazarene (MVNU) will be critical for seeding within the Crossroads League Tournament, as MVNU is right on Taylor’s heels at fourth in the conference standings. Saturday’s 5 p.m. match against Saint Francis will be the team’s annual Senior Day, as they celebrate a total of eight seniors.
While this season has already been the winningest in conference play since 2016, the team recognizes the importance of finishing strong against these conference foes to build momentum heading into the postseason.
“I think we just need to take it one step at a time, and not get ahead of ourselves,” Parrett said. “We need to be present-focused.”