Trinity University Volleyball has been selected as the preseason favorite in the quest for the 2021 NCAA III National Championship by the nation’s members of the American Volleyball Coaches Association, the organization announced Monday. The Tigers notched their first-ever No. 1 ranking during this spring’s abbreviated campaign, now follow with its first preseason high mark.
Trinity concluded its shortened Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference-only spring slate with a 13-3 record as it sprinted through the conference on its way to another SCAC Championship appearance but fell just short of the pinnacle to last season’s No. 1 in the final rankings, Colorado College, who also happens to be No. 2 in Monday’s AVCA poll.
The Tigers have returned nearly its entire roster from the 2020-21 campaign, all of whom saw significant playing time in the spring, many of which on near-even split rotations. The 2021 senior captains, outside hitter Avery Tuggle (Cedar Park, Texas / Cedar Park) and setter Lexie Acevedo (San Antonio, Texas / Incarnate Word), will lead an eight-player senior class comprised of outside hitter Annie Rose Leggett (Austin, Texas / Westwood), libero/defensive specialist Sami Lin (Sugar Land, Texas / Fort Bend Christian), middle blockers Emily Ellis (Georgetown, Texas / Georgetown) and Emma Funk (Pass Christian, Miss. / Our Lady) and rightside hitters Sarah Williammee (Denver, Colo. / East) and Sara Flynn (Seattle, Wash. / Roosevelt). This group has collected a SCAC championship, a NCAA III Semifinal appearance, three NCAA III Regional appearances, eight all-SCAC selections (including Tuggle’s 2019 SCAC Player of the Year) and a 102-23 (.816) overall record, 55-7 (.887) in SCAC regular-season competition.
The 2021 Trinity Volleyball captains roster includes juniors setter Marisa Amarino (Calabasas, Calif. / Notre Dame Prep) and middle blocker Brette Thornton (Rockwall, Texas / Rockwall). Amarino led last spring’s squad in assists as she split time with Acevedo while Thornton picked up 30 kills and seven blocks across eight match appearances. Libero/defensive specialist Nadia Kern (El Paso, Texas / Montwood) and Estefi Hinojosa (Mission, Texas / Sharyland) round out the quartet of third-years. Kern spent a majority of the back-half of last season as Trinity’s libero, splitting time with Lin.
A pair of class trios round out the Trinity roster: sophomores outside hitter Mackenzie Logan (Calgary, Alberta / Bishop Carroll), middle blockers/rightside hitters Maddie Fate (Croton on Hudson, N.Y.), Carley Broekhuizen (Kalamazoo, Mich. / Kalamazoo Christian) and first-years setter Trinity Herrera (San Antonio, Texas / Clark), outside hitters Demi Durham (Parker, Ariz. / Parker) and Amanda Henry (Tigard, Ore. / Jesuit).
The 18-Tiger lineup is under the direction of Head Coach Julie Jenkins as she embarks on her 37th campaign with the Trinity program, leading the nation’s active coaches in career victories, third all-time. Under her direction, the Tigers have chalked up a record of 956-401 (.704) including 353-38 (.902) in SCAC competition since 1991. Coach Jenkins’s teams have won 30 or more matches in 18 seasons.
Trinity’s 31-match 2021 schedule features a stacked non-conference schedule against three teams ranked in Monday’s poll (No.4 Emory University, No. 10 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and No. 20 University of Northwestern-St. Paul) and five more receiving votes (Babson College, Whitworth University, Chapman University, Cal Lutheran and MIT). The Tigers visit No. 2 Colorado College on September 25 and have a pair of matchups in SCAC play against University of St. Thomas and Southwestern University, both of whom also received votes in Monday’s poll.
The Tigers serve up the 2021 slate with a matchup against Our Lady of the Lake University September 1, which leads into the first of Trinity’s two home tournaments in the opening month: The Trinity Fall Classic (Sept. 3-4) and the Trinity National Invitational (Sept. 17-18).