Ranked number 12 in the preseason, Taylor University volleyball has started off their season strong going 6-2 after playing in the Onset Invitational and the Milligan Mountain Madness Tournament.
On day one of Onset, the team split, losing 0-3 in the first game to No. 7 Viterbo, but fought back and earned their first victory against IU South Bend. The Trojans won, 25-23, 18-25, 25-22, 25-16.
Against IU South Bend, Gracie Conway, Grace Ieremia, and Sarah Scott had double-digit kills, while McKaylah Flagle and Abi Powers finished with 11 digs a piece. Lindsay Springer joined them with eight digs of her own and added an impressive 55 assists to the game.
Day two of Onset brought decisive wins against Indiana Northwest and Wayland Baptist. The Trojans took all six sets with contributions of double-digit kills from Gracie Conway, 39 digs from McKaylah Flagle, and more.
Grace Ieremia had an impressive six blocks in the game against Wayland Baptist, three of which were solo. Ieremia excelled during the two tournaments, adding to the team with 26 blocks on the season with an additional six digs, and 59 kills.
“The energy right now is just really bursting, and like really fiery. And I know we want it and I see it in everybody’s eyes; they want it too; I want it,” she said.
The junior Trojan reflects on the team as a whole. While the team has introduced five freshmen and one transfer, new talent and chemistry have been flowing off and on the court. The team has been working on connection with their setting, new plays, new routes within the plays, and building a fast tempo to create smart, aggressive play.
“I’m looking forward to, in the future with this team, just being able to see God’s light shine through each of us… and how he knitted us together in such incredible testimonies, and forming us as a team as we are now,” Ieremia said.
On the first day of the Milligan Mountain Madness Tournament, the Trojans took the pair of games, winning in four sets over Blue Mountain Christian and five sets against Milligan. Junior Jaylynn Dunsmore led the charge with 34 kills between the two games, followed by teammate Gracie Conway with 28.
Dunsmore ponders that the game against Milligan was challenging, but a stand-out moment for the team. The game was down to the wire with sets going 19-25, 26-24, 25-19, 18-25, and 15-4. After playing for four and a half hours, the Trojans dialed in and came out with the win.
“I really saw how great we could be in the future, which was really cool to like, get a small glimpse of the greatness that can be. We just have to work out some things first,” Dunsmore said.
Day two of Milligan brought a win against Coastal Georgia in four sets. The Trojans had 11 service aces throughout the game and 53 digs. The next match against Southeastern was a loss in four sets, but Taylor ended the tournament with a 3-1 record.
Head Volleyball Coach Erin Luthy believes that the rest of the season holds lots of potential.
“There are moments of really, really great things and with that, I see a lot of grit, which is one of those intangible things of coaching,” Luthy said. You can train grit to a certain extent, but there’s also kind of this innate nature to be a bit more mentally tough when games get down to the wire to be aggressive in our approach of, I call it ‘game mode versus safe mode.’ And when we are going the extra mile late in the game to kind of squeak out those wins.”
The team hopes everyone will come out to support the team on their journey through the season. The women’s volleyball team will next see action against Saint Francis (Ind.) on September 20.