No. 9 Trinity Valley eliminates No. 19 Blinn from regionals, 3-1

TYLER, Texas — The No. 19 Blinn College volleyball team (29-8) fought hard in a close match against No. 9 Trinity Valley Community College, but fell to the Cardinals, 3-1 (25-22, 16-25, 22-25, 23-25), on Saturday at the Tyler Junior College Wagstaff Gym.

With the loss, the Buccaneers were eliminated from the Region XIV Tournament and concluded the season with a 29-8 record.

"I am really proud of this team for playing their hearts out today and it just happened that the other team made a few more plays than we did," said Terry Gamble, Blinn head coach. "I could not be happier about the season that we had and this is a great group of girls to coach."

Essence Clerkley led the Buccaneers with 13 kills and recorded five block assists, Taylor Henderson recorded a season-high 12 kills, and Paige Havel tallied 11 kills. Kaitlyn Pollard led Blinn with 40 assists, while Giulia Hortelan led with 15 digs and Autumn Dowell led with six block assists. Chloe Mullins als0 reached double-digit digs with 13.

The Buccaneers opened the match with a 25-22 victory as Havel, Clerkley and Henderson led the way with a combined 12 kills. Henderson recorded back-to-back kills for Blinn to take a 6-4 lead early and the Buccaneers held onto the lead until the Cardinals evened the match 13-13. Clerkley led Blinn on a five-point run with three kills for the Buccaneers to pull away with a 23-19 lead. Two errors on Trinity Valley allowed Blinn to take the victory and lead the match 1-0.

Trinity Valley bounced back with a 25-16 win to even the score 1-1. The Cardinals stopped Blinn's momentum by jumping out to a 12-6 lead. Clerkley and Autumn Dowell recorded blocks for Blinn to pull within seven points of the Cardinals, but Trinity Valley stayed ahead of the Buccaneers for the victory.

Blinn and Trinity Valley exchanged the lead several times at the end of the final two sets, and the Buccaneers were just two points away from taking the match into the fifth set.. After Blinn fell behind 12-7 in the third set, Clerkley recorded two straight kills for the Buccaneers to trail just one point behind Trinity Valley, 20-19. Blinn stayed closely behind  until the Lady Cardinals went on a 3-1 run for the 25-22 victory.

In the fourth set, Henderson recorded two kills and a block to lead Blinn to a 12-8 advantage. Trinity Valley fought back to take a 19-18 lead and then the Buccaneers evened the score 19-19 with a kill by Hortelan. Blinn and Trinity Valley rotated the lead until it was tied 23-23 and the Lady Cardinals were able to claim the final two points to win the set, 25-23.

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 41 NJCAA national championships since 1987.