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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Monday, May 20, 2024
The Echo
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Volleyball wins conference tournament

Team sets sights on deep national tournament run

Taylor’s volleyball team was the Crossroads League regular season champ, and by beating Marian University in the championship match, they are now Crossroads League Tournament champions. This is the first time since 2010 that the Trojans are Crossroads League Tournament Champions.

Taylor dominated the conference tournament. Their first round matchup was with Grace College who they swept 25-16, 25-17 and 25-21. Taylor’s second round matchup was a little more difficult, going against Bethel University, but Taylor still won in 4 sets by scores of 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, and 25-20.

The championship match was against Marian University. There was no official number, but this game was easily the most attended game of the year. Odle was electric. Having the support of the student body gave Taylor the edge, which led them to victory. Taylor struggled slightly in the second set by allowing it to go to extra points, but they won the match with scores of 25-10, 28-26, 25-17.

With Taylor being regular season and tournament champs in the Crossroads League, they have earned an automatic bid into the NAIA National Championship, where they will be facing more difficult competition. Their first round matchup is with Campbellsville University from Kentucky.

Taylor volleyball has been nothing short of amazing this season, finishing with a 30-5 (16-2) record and sweeping 20 of their opponents this year. They also haven’t surrendered a single game at home this season. 

The Crossroads League released their league awards on Nov. 15, and Taylor brought home several of them. Coach Erin Luthy brought home Coach of the Year for her first time as Taylor’s head coach. Luthy is now only 7 wins away from 150. Several players also brought home awards. 

Senior Ryan Czerniak brought home the Crossroads League Player of the Year honor this season. Czerniak has been nothing short of amazing this year, and she is very well deserving of this honor. She is second in the nation in kills with 427. She also leads all of NAIA Women’s Volleyball in hitting percentage with .400.

Senior Kacy Bragg also brought home an award. She was given the awards for the League’s Best Setter. Bragg ranks second in the nation with 1,382 assists. She also had several games with over 50 assists. 

Czerniak and Bragg also gained First-Team All-Crossroads League honors along with junior Anna Frey.

Frey has some impressive stats on the season. She has totalled 328 kills this year along with 320 digs. Frey has proven to be one of the more well rounded players on this year’s team.

Senior Arlanda Faulkner made the Second Team All-Crossroads League. She has had a more than solid senior season for the Trojans. She has tallied 308 kills on the season. 

Sophomore Grace Ieremia has also been a big producer for the Trojans this year. She leads all of NAIA in blocks, with 157 total blocks this season. She is also fourth in blocks per set with 1.33. She brought home Honorable Mention All-Crossroads League honors.

Freshman McKaylah Flagle has made an immediate impact on Taylor early on in her college career. She has stepped into her role and taken charge of many games throughout this season.

“At times, I honestly forget I’m a freshman because the team is so close. It definitely makes playing in high-stress games a lot easier, knowing the team and coach all believe in me,” Flagle said.

With 411 digs and 53 assists on the season, Flagle has been a great contributor and is a defensive star for the Trojans. She also brought home All-Freshman Team honors.

With the NAIA National Championship right around the corner, Taylor is preparing for tougher opponents. Every team in the NAIA National Championship is either their conference’s champion, runner up, or impressed the selection committee enough to receive an at-large bid. This is Taylor’s ninth time making it to Nationals, and they are looking to make it deep into the tournament. 

“I’m so proud of everything we’ve gone through together to get where we are right now,” Flagle said.

The second round of the NAIA National Tournament starts Nov. 30 in Sioux Falls, Iowa.