TYLER, Texas – The 13th-ranked Blinn College volleyball team wanted to set a tone for the season at the Dana Hatch Invitational this weekend.
With four victories in two days, including three against nationally-ranked opponents, the Buccaneers have made quite a statement in the season’s opening weekend. Blinn defeated 20th-ranked Western Texas 25-20, 25-19, 25-14, then beat ninth-ranked Tyler 25-23, 25-22, 25-14 Sunday to cap off a perfect 4-0 tournament showing.
“This team has set some preseason goals for what they want to accomplish and they’re definitely on the right track,” Blinn (4-0) coach Erin Mellinger said. “We wanted to set the tone early for what people should expect when they play Blinn.”
The Buccaneers started the tournament’s second day slowly by falling behind Western Texas, but sophomore middle blocker Bruna Evangelista led the way with 14 kills and four blocks, and sophomore setter Crystal Young dished out 33 assists while also leading the Bucs with 10 digs.
Freshman outside hitter Rebecca Reeve posted 11 kills and nine digs, and freshman outside hitter Jaeda Allen added eight kills and two blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Kariana Castanon-Hill added six kills and a team-high six blocks, while freshman Alyssa LaMont added nine digs.
“We ran our middles really well and they’re really hard to stop,” Mellinger said. “It’s funny – I’ve been stressing our serve receive in practice and pushing them to get better, but that turned out to be one of our greatest strengths today.”
Tyler took the first five points of the opening set in Blinn’s second match of the day, but the Buccaneers persevered. Evangelista led the Bucs with 14 kills and four blocks, and Castanon-Hill added nine kills and four blocks. Reeve had seven kills, nine digs and five blocks, and Allen added seven kills.
Young dished out 38 assists and posted 11 digs, while LaMont had a team-high 16 digs. Freshman Trinity Alualu added nine digs.
“I’m really proud of how we responded when we were down,” Mellinger said. “We just kept putting pressure on them and got ourselves back in the game.”
The Buccaneers make their home debut Friday when they host the Applebee’s Classic at the Blinn P.E. Building. The Bucs face Hill at 2 p.m. and Navarro at 6 p.m. Friday before facing Temple at 1 p.m. and Panola at 5 p.m. Saturday.
For more information on Blinn volleyball, visit www.buccaneersports.com.