RIO GRANDE, Ohio – After rebounding from a season-opening loss last Wednesday with a straight-sets win over Lourdes University on Friday night, the University of Rio Grande volleyball team maintained its momentum by posting 3-1 victories over Union (Ky.) College and Cincinnati Christian University, Saturday afternoon, at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The RedStorm dropped the Bulldogs in their opening match 25-19, 25-11, 18-25, 25-20 before shooting down the Eagles 25-20, 25-27, 25-21, 25-18.
Rio led 19-17 late in the opening game against Union, but scored six of the final eight points to win going away. The RedStorm then bolted to a 13-4 lead in game two en route to an easy win, before the Bulldogs turned the tables and raced to a 6-1 cushion in their game three victory to extend the match.
Union (2-5), which suffered a 3-2 loss to Lourdes in its opening match of the day, enjoyed a 16-13 edge in game four before Rio reeled off 10 of the next 11 points, including seven straight, to secure the win which wrapped up the match.
Senior outside hitter Whitney Smith and freshman outside hitter Kelsey Beatty had 12 and 10 kills, respectively, while junior setters Kayla Landaker and Kelsey Martin had 19 and 17 assists, respectively.
Senior libero Lauren Raines led the RedStorm with 19 digs and freshman middle blocker Alex Phillips finished with six blocks.
Rio jumped to a 15-9 lead in the opening game against CCU and never looked back en route to the win, but the RedStorm coughed up an 18-11 advantage in game two as the Eagles (5-2) rallied for a victory that was punctuated by one of four service aces by Cara Barkes.
Cincinnati Christian took a 9-7 lead in game three, but Rio scored six straight points of its own—including five service winners by Martin and a pair of kills by Beatty—to take the lead for good.
In game four, the RedStorm led just 13-12 before a kill by Smith gave the serve back to head coach Billina Donaldson’s squad and started a stretch which saw Rio score 11 of the next 13 points to win going away.
Smith led URG with 14 kills and added 11 digs, while senior middle blocker Erin Sherman added 13 kills and a team-high four blocks in the victory. Beatty and sophomore middle blocker Betsy Schramm finished with 13 and 10 kills, respectively.
Landaker and Martin contributed 27 and 25 assists, respectively, with Raines added a team-high 15 digs and junior defensive specialist Nicole Ogg finishing with 12 digs of her own.
In addition to her four aces, Barkes led CCU with 14 kills and 22 digs.