ANGOLA, Ind. – The Olivet College volleyball team rallied to win two thrilling five-set matches tonight at Hershey Hall in Angola. The Comets opened Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) play by knocking off Trine University (14-25, 25-16, 15-25, 25-22, 15-11) and then beat Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Ind.) in a non-conference match (19-25, 25-14, 23-25, 26-24, 15-8).
Trine used seven service aces in the first set to lead it wire-to-wire and win it, 25-14. The Thunder led the second set, 14-13, before Olivet went on a 12-2 scoring run to close the set for a 25-16 win. After a 6-6 tie in the third set, Trine scored six of the next seven points for a 12-7 lead, which it did not relinquish en route to a 25-15 win.
The Thunder held an 8-4 lead in the fourth set. The Comets came back with a 9-0 run to gain a 13-8 lead. After Olivet led 19-15, Trine scored four straight points to knot the score at 19-19. The Comets answered with three consecutive points to grab the lead back 22-19 and held on for a 25-22 win to force the deciding fifth set.
Neither team led by more than two points in the early stages of the fifth set. Olivet took a pair of three-point leads, 8-5 and 10-7, before the Thunder scored a pair of points to trail by two, 10-9. The Comets scored five of the last six points to win the set, 15-10.
For the match, senior Tina Westendorp (Nashville/Maple Valley) and freshman Cassie Brown (Lansing/Lansing Catholic) each pounded down 10 kills. Senior Stefanie Lang (Valparaiso, Ind.) had nine kills with only one attack error on 18 attempts for a .444 hitting percentage. Junior Taylor Pringle (Haslett) and freshman Danielle Bearden (Goodrich) split time at setter, dishing out 19 and 16 assists, respectively. Junior Megan VanderVlucht (McBain) topped the back row with 27 digs. As a team, the Comets recorded 10 total blocks.
Rose-Hulman led the first set from start-to-finish, winning it 25-19. Olivet did the same in the second set for a 25-14 win. The Comets had a 5-4 lead in the third set before the Engineers came back with a 3-0 run to take a 7-5 lead. Following four tied scores at 9-9, 10-10, 11-11 and 14-14, Rose-Hulman scored a point on a kill and did not give up the lead for the rest of the set to win it, 25-23.
Olivet had a lead all the way until a 22-22 tie in the fourth set. The teams traded points to force a 24-24 tie. Two straight Engineer attack errors gave the Comets a 26-24 win and force the deciding set for a second straight match and third time this season.
After falling 3-0 in the fifth set, Olivet put three straight points on the scoreboard. Rose-Hulman tied the set at 3-3 before the Comets scored the next point to take the lead and did not give it up for the rest of the set en route to a 15-8 win.
For the match, junior Emma Brann (Ann Arbor/Pioneer) led all players with 20 kills and nine blocks. She had five attack errors on 49 attempts for a .306 hitting percentage. Brown added 13 kills. Bearden finished with a team-high 26 set assists, while Pringle had 18. VanderVlucht collected 21 more digs. As team, Olivet finished with 14 blocks to one for the Engineers.
The Comets (2-4, 1-0 MIAA) return home to face Hope College in their home-opener Friday night. First serve inside The Cutler Event Center is set for 6:30 p.m.