RIVER FOREST, ILL. -- The Trine University men's volleyball team lost a pair of matches in a tri-match hosted by Concordia University Chicago with losses against Graceland (Iowa) University and Concordia Chicago in River Forest, Ill.
Trine (0-3) fell to Graceland in straight sets by the scores of 25-17, 25-23 and 25-21. Sophomore Kyle Dixon (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) led the Thunder offense with a match-high 10 kills. Freshman Chris Dargan (Manhattan, Ill./Lincoln Way West) was second with six kills and fellow freshman Parker Beale (Noblesville, Ind./Fishers) was third with four kills.
Senior Hunter Monday (Beech Grove, Ind./Lutheran) had a match-high 22 set assists and was also one of four players to record a service ace.
Defensively, Beale led the team in digs with six. The duo of sophomore Eric Santiago-Garcia (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Glen Ridge) and Monday were tied for second with five digs each. Dargan and Dixon both led the team in total blocks with a pair each (two assists).
Trine started off the first set with an ace by Monday, but the Yellow Jackets then set the tone for the game with four straight points to take the lead and never relinquished control. Graceland led by as many as eight points in the set, including the final score by a 25-17 margin.
The second frame saw Graceland jump out to an early 4-1 lead, but Trine later came back to tie the score at 7-7 aided by a pair of kills by Beale and an ace by Dargan. With the set tied at 10-10 following a kill by Dixon, Graceland rattled off five straight points to lead, 15-10. Trine again rallied to even the game multiple times including a 23-23 stalemate late. But the Yellow Jackets tallied the final points it needed before the Thunder, sealing the 25-23 victory and a 2-0 match lead.
The third set began with Trine scoring the first three points thanks to a pair of Graceland errors and a kill by Dixon. Graceland worked its way back to even the score and eventually took the lead, but Trine kept the set close with a multitude of ties on the scoreboard. Later in the set after an ace by Boren that made it a 16-16 game, the Yellow Jackets scored three straight points which turned out to be the cushion they needed to hang on for the 25-21 final and take the match by a final of 3-0.
Against Concordia-Chicago, Trine captured the first set by a final of 25-21 that included four kills by Dixon and three by Dargan. The Cougars then captured the next three sets, 25-14, 25-22 and 25-14, to come away with the overall 3-1 match win.
Trine took a 4-1 lead early in the first set, but Concordia came back to even the game several times with the last one being a score of 8-8. The Thunder then started to pull away thanks to an ensuing 7-1 scoring run to lead, 15-9. Concordia recovered a bit and made it a two-point game late, 22-20. Trine didn't waiver and a kill by Dargan gave the Thunder the final point it needed to come away with the 25-21 victory.
The second set was a heavily contested game between the two teams early on with neither team leading by more than a few points. The Cougars maintained a 12-10 advantage when a 7-1 run provided the separation Concordia needed to take control, 19-11. The lead was too much to overcome for Trine as Concordia evened the match at a set apiece following a 25-14 victory.
An error by Concordia gave Trine the early lead in set three and the two teams worked to a 2-2 tie shortly after when the home squad took the lead for good. Trine battled back to even the game at 18-18 following an ace by Dixon that ended a string of three straight points for the Thunder. The Cougars kept Trine from taking the lead and was able to claim the 25-22 win to take a 2-1 match lead.
Concordia led for the entire fourth set and pulled away about midway through the game to put it out of reach. Leading by six points late, 20-14, the Cougars scored five straight points to claim the set, 25-14, and the match, by a final of 3-1.
Beale led all Trine players in kills with 11 and had a .321 hitting percentage for the match. He was followed by sophomore Dan Boren (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) who tallied 10 kills. Monday again set up the offense with 37 of the team's 41 assists. In addition, Dixon finished with a pair of aces against the Cougars.
Monday and freshman Dominic Saenz (Wall Twp., N.J./Wall) both lead the team in digs with seven each. Beale finished second with six digs. Saenz and Boren both had a pair of block assists to lead the team.
Trine will look for its first win of the season when it hosts the "Off the Block Grow the Game Challenge" at Hershey Hall on Friday-Saturday, Jan. 24-25. The Thunder will take on Thiel (Pa.) College on Friday with the match set to begin at approximately 8 p.m.
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