No. 13 TU Topples No. 17 Marian and Earns Sole Possession of First Place
UPLAND, Ind. – The No. 13 Taylor volleyball team (19-4, 8-1 CL) earned sole possession of first place in the Crossroads League on Friday evening, when the Trojans toppled No. 17 Marian (15-2, 7-2 CL) in four sets inside Odle Arena.
Marian took the court having won the last seven matchups with Taylor, but a touch of Odle Arena magic saturated the air Friday evening as TU improved to 10-0 on its home court in 2022. Including a 13-1 record at home in 2021, Taylor has now won 23 of its last 24 matches in Upland.
By night’s end, the Trojans outkilled Marian by a mark 66-to-57, averaging an explosive 16.50 kills-per-set against a Marian team that has led the league with an average of 13.72 kills-per-set most of the season.
A trio of Trojans combined for 42 of those 66 team kills, with Ryan Czerniak leading the way with 15. Grace Ieremia and Anna Frey followed close behind, as the Florida native posted 14 while Frey added 13 of her own.
Senior setter, Kacy Bragg, filled the box score with 56 assists, nine digs, seven kills and a block. Bragg now averages the fifth-highest mark in the nation with an average of 11.07 assists-per-set on the season, meanwhile the Warsaw, Indiana, native is now just 28 career assists from Amber McClure and fifth all-time in TU program history.
While the Trojans established their edge with the kill from the very first set, 10 opening-set errors paved the way for the Knights to steal an early edge. While the score bounced back and forth much of the first set, Taylor earned a two-point lead late the game, thanks to back-to-back kills by Arlanda Faulkner and Frey. Down 22-20, though, Marian regathered with a timeout, which culminated in a renewed urgency and a 26-24 first-set win.
From that point on, behind the energy of its home crowd, Taylor owned the momentum of the match. TU worked a 14-5 lead midway through the second set, thanks in large part to seven Marian errors. The Knights stood tall, though, fighting back toward an 18-22 set score that forced a Taylor timeout. Taylor’s standout seniors, Bragg and Czerniak, went on to put the set away by sandwiching two kills around another Marian error for a 25-22 set win.
Friday’s third set was a clean one, with Taylor and Marian combining for just six total attack errors, while the two teams slammed a remarkable total of 38 kills. Marian posted 17 team kills, impressive in its own right, though Taylor responded with 21 of its own. Czerniak and Frey each had five third-set kills, while Faulkner struck four and Ieremia and Bragg each contributed three of their own.
Nonetheless, Marian worked a 12-10 lead in the third set, only to have Taylor respond with a 9-2 run that carried the Trojans to yet another 25-22 set win.
The fourth and final set followed much of the same script, as the two Crossroads-League powerhouses traded points back-and-forth until the score read 23-23. A Taylor timeout carved space for the TU faithful to stretch its legs and strengthen its lungs, as Odle Arena roared when Faulkner pocketed the match’s final two kills en route to Taylor’s first win over Marian since October of 2018.
Faulkner finished the match with nine kills, boosting her career total to 989 and just 11 away from the 1,000-career kill milestone.
The Trojan outside hitter and her teammates will look to accomplish that milestone tomorrow afternoon, when the first-place No. 13 Trojans (19-4, 8-1 CL) travel to Mishawaka to take on RV Bethel (14-7, 6-3 CL) at 3:00 pm.