Trojan volleyball season off to a spectacular start

Wally Pendergrass

Staff Writer 

The Trojan volleyball team is off to its best start in years under head coach Sonny Kirkpatrick. The team went 3-1 in the Big Orange Bash in Clemson, South Carolina, over the weekend and defeated previously undefeated Southern Miss on Monday, Sept. 1, in Trojan Arena, starting the season with a 4-1 record.

Troy started the Big Orange Bash with a couple of 3-0 victories over Austin Peay and UNC Ashville. Senior outside hitter Maria Zelenovic, who had 16 kills and a .481 attack percentage against Austin Peay, led the Trojans.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Kirkpatrick said. “We had two total team wins today. We’ve got some things to clean up for tomorrow, but I really like our focus and intensity today.”

The Trojans would take a close 3-2 win over USC Upstate before losing to Clemson 3-1. In the win over USC Upstate, the Trojans would overcome a 2-1 deficit and win the fourth and fifth sets to take the match. Junior outside hitter Blair Winston led the Trojans in that game, as she finished with 14 kills and a .440 attack percentage.

The Trojans would start strong against the Clemson Tigers, winning the first set. However, Troy then gave up three straight sets and lost the match 3-1. Winston led the team in kills with 13 and in total attacks with 39, but she also led the team with 10 errors. Zelenovic had 10 kills, 36 total attacks and seven errors.

Both Zelenovic and Winston made the Big Orange Bash All-Tournament Team. Zelenovic finished the tournament with 52 kills, 129 total attacks and a 3.47 k/s ratio. Winston had 44 kills, 103 total attacks, and a 2.93 k/s ratio. Junior Tineile Waggoner finished the tournament with 101 assists.

On Labor Day, the volleyball team had revenge on its mind. The Trojans hosted the Southern Miss Eagles, who swept the Trojans 3-0 last year in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on their home court.

The Trojans returned the favor as they swept the previously unbeaten Eagles 3-0. The Trojans now have a record of 4-1.

Troy won the first and third set by six and four points respectively, but the second set was a tightly contested set that the Trojans would win 27-25.

Winston led the team with 12 kills, but Zelenovic had a better attack percentage at .333. Junior setter Tineille Waggoner added 28 assists in the match.

“I don’t think we came out and played as well as we did last weekend, but it’s a great win,” Kirkpatrick said. “The crowd was phenomenal. I couldn’t be more thankful.”

The Trojans will host the Trojan Invitational this Thursday and Friday. Troy will play Mercer on Thursday night, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m.

The Trojans also play Alabama A&M at noon on Friday, Sept. 5, and they wrap up the tournament that night at 7 p.m. against Jacksonville State.

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