Trojans topple Marquette

CULVER — Trailing late, Triton coach Terrin Meister had confidence in her team. But after more than four nip-tuck games with Marquette, she figured the outcome would likely boil down to who wanted it more.
With the Lady Trojans facing an 11-9 deficit in the match-deciding fifth game, the Triton volleyball skipper called a timeout to help her players regroup. Following her pep talk, Triton went on a 5-1 tear en route to a 21-19 victory in an extended rubber game for a marathon five-set win over the Blazers, 21-25, 25-22, 25-23, 21-25, 21-19, in the Class A Culver Community Sectional opener Wednesday.
Triton now moves on to face host Culver in a semifinal Saturday at 11 a.m., while today at the tourney Argos plays Westville at 6 p.m., and Oregon-Davis takes on defending sectional champion South Central (Union Mills) at 7:30 p.m. to determine Saturday’s second semifinal.
“I pretty much told them ‘How bad do you want this? It’s up to you,” said Meister of Triton’s final timeout Wednesday. “This game is in your hands, you can control this game, you are the better team. So whether you decide to buckle down, chase down every ball, it’s up to you, really. Don’t let them dictate. Make them earn their points.’”
The Trojans dropped the first set Wednesday and dug themselves holes in every game thereafter, including deficits as large as six points in the third and fourth games.
But the team showed resiliency during some long rallies and came together to survive to Saturday’s semifinals. The victory was a reprisal for Triton’s three-game, opening-round defeat by the Blazers at the Culver tourney last year. It was also a growing moment for her young squad, says Meister.
“I think tonight was a very big night for us in terms of growth,” she said. “We’ve struggled all season with our communication, lack of enthusiasm. We are really young; I have one senior, three juniors, and out of those four girls only two have varsity experience. I think tonight was a big night and that we really grew a lot. I am so proud of them.”
Triton was led by a strong all-around performance from lone senior Megan Howdeshell, who paced her team both in attacking and defense with a balanced 18 kills and 28 digs.
“She is my senior. She’s a fourth-year varsity letterwinner,” said Meister. “I coached her when she was in eighth grade. She has grown so much in those five years that I’ve been with her. She’s really going to be missed next year because she is my all-around player and my power hitter. She was having a rough warm-up, but she really stepped it up when her team needed her the most.”
Breanna Lemler had five kills and Shana Anderson registered four for the Trojans, while Marissa Ross served three aces, and Krystal Sellers set 15 assists. Along with its usual leaders, the team got an extra boost from JV setter Holly Stogsdill as the sophomore put 25 digs to target to help her team advance.
“Holly Stogsdill, she was our JV setter,” Meister said. “I already have two setters on varsity so mainly I was using her for passing on varsity, and one of my varsity setters, her passing was really off so I threw Holly in there. I’m very proud of the way that Holly took that responsibility on and took charge.”
Triton now moves on to face Culver — which drew the bye at the six-team sectional — in a semifinal Saturday morning at 11 a.m. with the championship scheduled for 7 p.m. The Trojans have already beaten the Cavaliers twice this year — once during Northern State Conference play at Culver Sept. 1 and the second time at Triton’s home invitational Sept. 10 — but they’re definitely not looking past the Class A Sectional 51 hosts.
“We’ve played them twice already this year,” Meister said. “We played them in our tournament and we beat them, and we played them at their school and beat them. I know we’re going to have a target on our backs because no team wants to lose to the same team three times. We definitely can’t overlook them, and we can’t be satisfied that we beat Marquette either.”
• TRITON 3, MARQUETTE 2 (21-25, 25-22, 25-23, 21-25, 21-19)
At Culver Community Sectional
Triton stats
Kills: Megan Howdeshell 18, Breanna Lemler 5, Shana Anderson 4
Aces: Marissa Ross 3
Assists: Krystal Sellers 15
Digs: Howdeshell 28, Holly Stogsdill 25