VU Volleyball caps off weekend with impressive upset over No. 18 Mineral Area - Athletics

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VU Volleyball caps off weekend with impressive upset over No. 18 Mineral Area

The Vincennes University Volleyball Team on Saturday capped off a three-day run of matches that revealed the team has a strong will, a determination to turn potential into sustained success and a sense of belonging just 12 matches into its first season as a NJCAA Div. I program.

VU gutted out a five-set win over Mineral Area Saturday afternoon that wrapped up the Trailblazers’ annual Blazer Classic at the VU P.E. Complex, but it also served as the team’s fourth win over a nationally ranked opponent in the young 2016 campaign. Mineral Area had received votes in the NJCAA’s preseason and Week 1 polls and the as-yet-unranked Trailblazers (11-1) bested the Cardinals two days after upsetting Div. I No. 18 Wallace State on Thursday at the P.E. Complex. Both programs were in this weekend’s Blazer Classic Field and were undefeated when they arrived in Vincennes.

The Trailblazers defeated Wallace State in straight sets, 27-25, 29-27, 25-18, on Thursday when the Lions visited prior to the Blazer Classic. VU then put the wraps on the invitational by turning away Mineral Area in a brutal battle of a match, 25-23, 16-25, 29-27, 25-21, 18-16.

In between those two contests, VU beat Glen Oaks (20-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-8, 15-7), Lake Land (25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 25-15) and Malcolm X (25-10, 25-18, 25-7).

This season, the Trailblazers also own victories over NJCAA Div. II No. 6 Owens (on its own floor) and No. 20 Grand Rapids.

Over the span of the five latest matches, the Trailblazers continued to have a large stable of heroes stepping up – led by freshman setter/OPP Gabrielle Medrado’s four triple-double statistical performances in the first 12 matches. Medrado’s 18 assists, 15 kills and 15 digs against Mineral Area paced a VU team effort that also included freshman setter Cali Topolski’s 33 assists, sophomore outside hitter Lindsay Persico’s 17 kills and freshman defensive specialist/Libero Hannah Bullock’s 12 digs. The Trailblazers also got 12 kills from freshman outside hitter Genesis Milisde, 10 digs from sophomore defensive specialist Abigail Bergman and four blocks by sophomore middle blocker Jordan Sprinkle.

In trending 2016 VU volleyball fashion, the Trailblazers fell behind the Cardinals early in four of the match’s five sets and clawed their way back to make it close or snatch wins in dramatic style.

In the opening set, VU was forced to call a timeout with Mineral Area up, 14-6. Following the break, the Trailblazers started to chip away at the deficit and closed the gap to 17-16. VU eventually tied the score at 19-all, 20-20 and 21-21, but could never get over the hump and grab the lead until a Milisde kill pulled VU ahead at set point, 24-23. The Trailblazers then won it on Sprinkle’s tap over the net that fell untouched to the floor.

Set No. 2 saw VU fall behind 16-10 and the Trailblazers could never get closer than a five-point spread, which led to the nine-point loss and evening out the slate after two sets.
Mineral Area jumped out to a lead again in the third set and VU was down 13-8. But a long rally was concluded with a VU point on a combination block by VU sophomore middle blocker Kassidie Hayes and freshman middle blocker Erica Kik. VU scored two more unanswered points to make it 13-11 Cardinals and the Trailblazers stayed within striking distance until another Hayes/Kik block tied the score at 21-all. The teams fought to more tie scores at 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 before Mineral Area scored two times to go up 2-1 in the match with the thrilling 29-27 win.

The fourth set didn’t require yet another comeback initiative by VU. The Trailblazers opened up an 11-5 advantage early on and VU weathered a Cardinal comeback attempt that made things tense but the Trailblazers still clung to a 21-20 lead late in the set. A Persico kill made it 22-20 VU and the Trailblazers scored again to tack on and make it 23-20 before the Cardinals called a timeout. Nothing Mineral Area could do, however, was able to stop VU. Mineral Area scored once more but the Trailblazers closed out Set No. 4, 25-21.

The decisive fifth set was an exhausting turn of events that included VU leading early but the Cardinals storming back to take the lead, 7-6, and hold an 8-7 lead at the turn. VU managed to re-take the lead at 12-11 on a Mineral Area hitting error, but the visitors went back in front, 13-12.

Topolski tapped the ball over the net for a point and tied the score at 13-all, Persico got a smash down in the corner to stake the Trailblazers to a 14-13 lead, Mineral Area knotted it up at 14-all and then scored to go up 15-14. The Trailblazers tied it up yet again (15-15) on another Persico kill and VU benefited from a wide hit by the Cardinals to climb ahead, 16-15. After Mineral Area created the match’s last scoring logjam at 16-all, Medrado broke the tie with a hit that the Cardinals couldn’t block and VU sophomore outside hitter Kaeli James finally put an end to the battle with a kill that provided the 18-16 victory and 3-2 match verdict.

VU gets a day off on Sunday and then jumps right back into action when the Trailblazers make a trip Monday to Rend Lake in Ina, IL. That match is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. (“Vincennes time”). VU will then host Lake Land at 7 p.m. Thursday at the VU P.E. Complex.


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