TYLER, Texas – The Blinn College volleyball team split the final day of the Dana Hatch Invite here Saturday afternoon to finish with three wins in four tournament contests to open the season.
Blinn defeated Barton Community College 31-33, 28-26, 25-8, 25-9 before falling to Tyler Junior College 23-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-10.
The victory over Barton marked Blinn's 50th consecutive regular-season victory, a stretch dating back to September 2010, and marked the team's 42nd consecutive victory overall. The Buccaneers went 38-0 last season on their way to their second national championship.
Blinn swept Victoria College and Trinity Valley Community College on the first day of the tournament Friday.
In Saturday's match vs. Barton, sophomore outside hitter Ksenia Sukhareva led the Bucs (3-1) with 15 kills. Freshman outside hitter Tyanna Roy and sophomore middle blocker Bruna Evangelista each reached double-digit kills with 10. Freshman setter Crystal Young dished out 50 assists, while freshman libero Tori Estrada paced the defense with 26 digs. Evangelista added six blocks.
"They were tight the first couple games, but I think our true colors showed in the third and fourth games," said first-year head coach Erin Mellinger. "We solidified our serve receive, which in turn solidified our offense."
Sukhareva, one of three returning players from last year's national championship team, had another outstanding match against Tyler, pacing the Buccaneers with 20 kills. Freshman outside hitter Dylan Dean and Roy each had nine and Evangelista added eight.
Young distributed 38 assists while Estrada tallied 21 digs.
"We finished strong against Barton and that carried over into the first game against Tyler," Mellinger said. "We had a solid game plan and took them out of what they wanted to do, and we went into Game 2 and did the exact same thing."
Blinn led the second set 23-19, but Tyler went on a 6-0 run to take the game. That gave the Apaches momentum that they never relinquished.
Blinn travels to Hillsboro on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. match against Hill College.
The Buccaneers will make its 2012 home debut on Aug. 31 when they host the Labor Day Classic. Blinn faces Western Texas at 1 p.m. and Temple at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31, then faces Labette at 1 p.m. and Panola at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1.