TRAVERSE CITY — The Titans and Trojans started their rivalry match on Wednesday with a moment of silence to remember those whose lives were lost on 9/11.
The two hours that followed were pandemonium.
The Titans and Trojans met for the first time this season Wednesday at TC West and the energy from the rivalry was palpable.
The Titans came out on top in five games, defeating the Trojans 25-18, 25-21, 21-25, 17-25, 15-11, but it wasn’t without the fight of their lives.
TC West went up 2-0 after the first two games and it looked like they would walk out of their home gym with a sweep over their crosstown rival but the Trojans didn’t go away easily.
“The first two games we came out ready to play,” Titans head coach Emily Baumann said. “And then the third and fourth games we were playing not to lose instead of playing to win. It was really frustrating to see that because we are such a strong team. We started letting them take charge of the game.”
The teams kept the score close all evening with the Titans pulling out game one after breaking off four straight points when it was tied 15-15. A long rally highlighted the turning point of game one with the Trojans hitting the ball out of bounds on a strong finish from Maggie McCrary.
The Titans pulled away in game two in the final stages, scoring nine out of the last 10 points. The Trojans looked down and out, but head coach Jen Wright righted the ship and TC Central forced the Titans into a plethora of mistakes.
“We started playing timid and then we started making the errors instead of going aggressive like we did in the first and second game,” Baumann said. “We started playing timid and, of course, then you start making the errors.”
McCrary and Emma Turnquist led the way back for the Trojans, planting spikes left and right while Olivia Fiebing and the back line dug everything that came their way.
The Trojans took the next two sets with relative ease with exception of the scare at the end of game three. The Titans scored four out of five points to end the set, falling 25-21. TC Central took game four 25-17, mostly due to the Titans’ error-filled play.
“One of the things that we’re working on is eliminating errors,” Baumann said. “So that’s something that we have really started to focus on. In game three and four, we did not do that.”
Game five was filled with emotion as both teams fought tooth and nail for the victory.
The rivals traded points until the Titans began to pull away with two three-point runs to get them ahead 11-6. The Trojan efforts were thwarted by a couple of net violations that gave the Titans free points and the momentum swung to the home team.
“I’m happy with how we fought, but I’m not happy with how many errors we had in the fifth set,” Wright said. “It’s kind of hard to win when you have so many errors back to back.”
The student sections were trading rallying cries all evening, but the energy picked up during the fifth set. The Titan faithful began to overpower the screams of the Trojans and the team responded.
“I think it’s hard in this environment, it’s going to be a high energy environment as it is,” Wright said. “I think they just got to keep playing point for point and realize that there’s another set or another point to play.”
Sophomore Becky Lane led the way for the Titans with six aces, nine kills, 10 digs and two blocks. Her energy on the floor was contagious as the Titans began to pull away.
“Her energy is crazy,” Baumann said. “When she gets herself going, she gets so excited. She runs around and it is so fun to watch because she gets so excited and it’s fun for everybody.”
Sammy Schaub totaled 23 digs and Sara Schermerhorn had 10 for the Titans.
McCrary logged 15 kills to lead TCC while Turnquist tallied 12 kills and three aces.
The Titans hold the cards in the rivalry after losing both matches against the Trojans in 2018. With only two seniors on the squad, Baumann still feels they have work to do.
“We are still a super young team,” she said. “I have four sophomores on the court at one time. So trying to get them to have that belief that we are such a strong team still is something that we are working on.”
Lane, who is one of the many underclassmen, feels this was a great start to the league season and is ready for the rest of the Big North Conference.
“I’m super hyped, I can’t wait to play the other teams,” Lane said. “I feel like since we’ve got one year playing together, we’re going to be a lot better this year since we have such a strong bond. I feel like that’s super important.”