Despite just three wins in their first 14 matches, the Truman volleyball team didn’t let that start ruin what they set out to accomplish before the 2016 campaign started. The Bulldogs got hot at just the right time, were winners in seven of their final nine regular season matches and entered the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament as the No. 2 seed out of the West Division. Truman then proceeded to dispatch Drury (3-1), upset No. 15 Lewis (3-2) and sweep McKendree in the finals for the program’s second GLVC title in three years.
Overall, the purple and white turned in a final record of 18-17 including a mark of 12-6 in conference play. Those 35 matches included 10 against teams ranked in the top 25 and four against teams who received votes according to the weekly American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division II coaches poll. That includes a season opener against this year’s national champion, Concordia-St. Paul.
Even though Truman won just one of those 10 matches against a top-25 opponent, it may have been the most important win of the season. Entering the GLVC tournament semifinal match against then-No. 15 Lewis, the Flyers had won nine in a row, which included a sweep against Truman, Nov. 4, in Illinois. However, as head coach, Ben Briney preaches to his players, there are no big moments, and the match against Lewis just over two weeks later was just another match for the Bulldogs.
After the 3-0 stretch of the GLVC tournament, Truman was given the No. 8 seed in the Midwest regional and matched up against host and top-seeded Ferris State, ranked No. 15 at the time. Ferris State’s win over the Bulldogs in that match was its 25th in a row before its run ended in the Midwest region championship against Lewis (3-0).
At the conclusion of the regular season, Kayla Bastian and fellow outside hitter Jasmine Brown were named to the All-GLVC second team. For the year, Bastian notched 13 double-doubles to put her career total at 42, and she sent home her 1,000th career kill, Oct. 28, against the University of Indianapolis. That successful attack made her the 17th player to reach the 1,000-kill mark in program history. Meanwhile, Brown finished her junior season with some of the best play of her career. In the team’s last nine matches, the striker had 108 kills (15 more than the next-closest Bulldog) to just 26 errors on 284 swings for a red-hot hitting percentage of .289.