JACKSON, Ohio — Rachel Gilkey had eight of her match-high 11 kills in the third set, helping the University of Rio Grande volleyball team secure a sweep of Bluefield (Va.) College in Friday night’s opening round of the Emileigh Jo Cooper Memorial Classic at Jackson High School.
The RedStorm rolled the Rams by scores of 25-22, 25-15, 25-13 after dropping a straight sets decision to River States Conference rival Point Park University (25-19, 25-22, 25-19) earlier in the evening.
In the win over Bluefield, Gilkey – a junior from Nelsonville, Ohio – finished with a .345 attack percentage and had just one error among her 29 swings, helping Rio to a season-high .233 attack percentage as a team.
The RedStorm scored the final four points to take the opening set and used an 11-2 run midway through set two to take control.
A 9-3 Rio run in the third stanza helped the RedStorm build an insurmountable double-digit lead. Head coach Billina Donaldson’s squad tallied a .393 attack percentage in the final set.
Junior Macy Roell (Farmersville, OH) had a match-best 28 assists and a team-high 12 digs for Rio Grande. She also added three block assists in the winning effort.
Freshman Malorie Colwell (London, OH) had 10 digs and two service aces for the RedStorm, while sophomore Jess Youse (Pettisville, OH) had two solo blocks and two block assists.
Bluefield, which hurt its own cause with 38 combined errors in the match, was led at the net by Kailee Kay’s nine kills. She also had a match-high 16 digs.
Rachel Sefton had 24 assists for the Rams in a losing effort.
Against Point Park, the RedStorm never led in the opening set and managed just a 13-12 lead midway through set two. The Pioneers did, however, score the final three winners in the second stanza to snap a 22-22 tie and take a commanding match lead.
Point Park bolted to a 7-1 lead and never trailed in set three, with Rio getting no closer than four points of a tie.
Taylor Small and Haley English had eight kills each for PPU, while Julia Menosky added 18 assists, 10 digs and a pair of service aces to the winning effort. English also had two aces.
Brittany Bianco had 17 assists of her own for the Pioneers, while Maria Ferragonio and Ashley Castelli had 21 and 18 digs, respectively, in the win.
Gilkey and senior Kinnison Donaldson (Jackson, OH) had seven kills each for Rio Grande, while Roell had 24 assists and 10 digs.
Senior Katie Hemsley (Jackson, OH) led the RedStorm with 19 digs, while Colwell and junior Ryanne Stoffel (Englewood, OH) finished with 12 and 10 digs, respectively, in a losing cause.
Rio Grande returns to action Saturday morning when it faces another RSC foe, West Virginia University-Tech, at 9:30 a.m.
The RedStorm will also face rival Shawnee State University at 1 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.