Volleyball left hot and seated in the top 25

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The Taylor Trojans women’s volleyball team came in again this year in a dominant fashion. In 16 matches played, they have lost just three, falling to teams that have been ranked or are receiving votes to be ranked.

The team first suffered their loss in the Labor Day Classic tournament in early September. They lost the first two games but came back in dominant fashion winning in three sets for the next two the following day. In that tournament, senior passer Kacy Bragg amassed 3,000 career assists, the tenth Trojan in school history to reach that milestone.

“It’s exciting (to reach the milestone),” she said. “I’m honored to be part of this team… I haven’t been able to get as many assists with hitting and passing. It’s definitely a team effort.”

Their last victory was against conference opponent Spring Arbor University. Winning in three straight sets, Bragg had 40 assists, moving to senior transfer and outside hitter Arlanda Faulkner with 10 kills, sophomore middle blocker Jaylynn Dunsmore with 10 kills and right lead hitter Ryan Czerniak with 13 kills. .

During the Viterbo tournament, the last of the season, the Trojans played their last opponent against Rocky Mountain College. Bringing home the win, Bragg had 34 assists. Along with the Spring Arbor win, Bragg is pushing his season total to 630 assists. That’s close to 60 sets played. She leads the NAIA in averaging 10 assists per set and is less than 200 assists away from moving up to seventh for the all-time leading assist in program history, and on pace at 4,000. assists over the year.

Not only did Bragg have a great start to the season, but she also praised senior right tackle Ryan Czerniak. She had her 1,000th career kill in the season opener and continued to push her success beyond a mere milestone. Now, Czerniak leads the entire NAIA with over 230 kills and a .456 kill percentage this season alone.

“Playing with her is a huge blessing,” Bragg said. “She’s a very humble player… She never comes down to herself, she’s very focused on the team.” Bragg and Czerniak are co-captains of the team, and knowing that Czerniak is working makes the game that much more exciting for both teammates.

This season has brought four new faces to the team. Faulkner, second-year hitter Grace Ieremia, junior outside hitter Anna Frey and second-year libero Jen Springer are all playing in the program for the first time this year. Springer provides insight into how this year has been.

“I think we play really (well) together as a team,” she said. “Because we have this team chemistry, we are capable of winning games.” Springer transferred from Purdue-Fort Wayne and loves the culture there. She plans to build on her skills and learn how to push not only herself, but also her teammates, to become better players in the sport.

Since the end of this last tournament of the season and the start of conference play, the Trojans have lost only three games in the four total tournaments played this year. They are also undefeated at Crossroads and hope to keep that for the rest of the year.

As for team play, Bragg and Springer paid tribute to head coach Erin Luthy. In just her seventh year as head coach, she led the team to become another Crossroads contender and an NAIA powerhouse. Last year, she coached her team almost to the same start as this season, going 13-2 in 15 games played. She also earned her 100th victory last year and led her team to 1,300 total wins, being the second team in the entire NAIA to do so. Her dominance as a coach has really kicked in since 2015 when she took over as coach.

The team is ranked No. 19 in the NAIA and has no intention of letting up. The second half of the season is now played entirely in the Crossroads league. The Lady Trojans play teams such as Marian University, rival Indiana Wesleyan, Spring Arbor and Grace College.


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