The Troy volleyball team began the Trojan Invitational well but struggled down the stretch, dropping the final two games in the three-game tournament.
The Trojans (3-4, 0-0 Sun Belt) took care of business against Southern University on Friday, Sept. 2, winning 3-0, but dropped the following games against Valparaiso and New Mexico State by scores of 1-3 and 0-3, respectively.
The home team kicked off the Trojan Invitational with a midday contest against Southern and had little trouble in the opening set, winning 25-15. Troy dominated the match, scoring 49 points to the Jaguars’ 28 and tallying a .349 hitting percentage to Southern’s .000 hitting percentage.
With that offense, the Trojans won in three straight sets, 25-15, 25-14 and 25-18.
Sophomore setter Jordyn Saulsberry, freshman middle hitter Logan Page and junior outside hitter Lauren Long tallied six kills each in the match to lead the Trojans.
“We came out real well and followed the game plan,” head coach Sonny Kirkpatrick said. “I thought we had great energy and the crowd was fantastic. It was the best we have played all year.”
Troy didn’t fare as well in the nightcap, losing to Valparaiso 1-3 just hours after the win against Southern. After cruising in the first set, 25-15, the Trojans let the match slip away, losing the last three sets by scores of 21-25, 19-25 and 17-25.
Saulsberry once again led the Trojans with 16 kills, 10 digs and two assists. It wasn’t enough to overcome a huge surge in the second set by the Crusaders, who tallied a .297 hit percentage.
Junior middle hitter Taylor Graboski had 11 kills and two blocks for the visitors, while sophomore outside hitter Katherine Carlson followed close behind with 10 kills and 11 digs.
“Valpo settled in and did what they wanted to do,” Kirkpatrick said. “We were less aggressive, and it gave them opportunities to score. I like the way we fought back at the end. Unfortunately, it was too little too late.”
Troy rounded out the weekend of play on Saturday with another loss, this time to Sun Belt football opponent New Mexico State.
While the Aggies dominated the Trojans in the first set by a score of 25-15, the home team made a game of it in the second behind an eight-kill performance from Page. New Mexico State powered through the Trojan comeback, however, to claim the set 25-23.
The third set wasn’t as close as the second, with the Aggies cruising to a 25-18 win in the final set to earn the sweep.
Despite the loss, senior right side Sara Landis recorded seven kills, three blocks and a .538 hitting percentage. Page also earned her spot on the stat sheet, tallying eight kills and three blocks.
The Trojans will travel to Montgomery on Sept. 9 to participate in the Alabama State tournament. Troy plays the hosting Hornets in the first match, with start time scheduled for 6 p.m.