PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A weekend trip to the Steel City proved to be a rough one for the University of Rio Grande volleyball team, as the RedStorm dropped three of its four outings in the Pioneer Invitational hosted by Point Park University.
On Friday night, Rio suffered a 3-1 (25-19, 26-24, 22-25, 32-30) setback at the hands of the University of Northwestern Ohio before falling in straight sets to tourney host Point Park, 25-13, 25-23, 25-18.
Saturday’s schedule opened with a disappointing 3-2 (25-18, 17-25, 22-25, 25-23, 15-11) loss to Asbury (Ky.), before the RedStorm salvaged a 3-1 (25-19, 20-25, 25-19, 25-22) triumph over West Liberty (W.Va.) State.
The weekend left head coach Billina Donaldson’s club, which was playing without the services of freshman outside hitter Kelsey Beatty, with a 4-5 record overall. Beatty suffered a badly sprained ankle earlier in the week, which also forced her to miss last Wednesday’s match at Shawnee State.
Senior outside hitter Whitney Smith and senior middle blocker Erin Sherman led Rio in the loss to UNOH with 15 and 12 kills, respectively. Sherman also tied freshman middle blocker Alex Phillips for team-high honors with five blocks.
Junior setter Kelsey Martin finished with 27 assists, while junior setter Kayla Landaker added 15 assists and senior libero Lauren Raines had a team-high 17 digs.
UNOH, which posted a second win in as many tries against the RedStorm in upping its record to 12-1, was led by Lauren Maxwell with 47 and 13 digs. Emily Crowell and Casey Gates added 24 and 17 kills, respectively, while Ellie Comes had 19 digs.
Cierra Anderson also had 18 digs for the Racers and Lauren Macuga was credited with 10 digs in the win.
In the loss to Point Park, URG failed to have a player reach double figures in kills and finished with a season-low .085 hitting percentage. Sherman had a club-high five kills and three blocks, while Martin finished with 12 assists and junior defensive specialist Nicole Ogg had 10 assists.
Lindsey Oberacker and Livia Caluori had nine kills each to pace the Pioneers (9-1), while Taylor Pugilese collected 31 assists and Alyssa Hall had 10 digs. Nicole Wurstle and Keaton Sausman had four blocks each for PPU.
Saturday’s loss to Asbury saw Smith post a team-high 19 kills to go along with 14 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Betsy Schramm had a season-best 14 kills, while Martin had 36 assists and Raines finished with 17 digs. Phillips and Sherman tallied four blocks each.
Mackenzie Burke had a team-high 33 assists in addition to 10 digs for Asbury (2-5), while Kelly Cole had 23 digs and Jessie Bartlow chipped in with 21 assists. Sarah Sterling and Morgan Newton had 19 and 10 kills, respectively, with Cari McMullen contributing 11 digs and Kaity Bradley finishing with a match-best six blocks.
The RedStorm prevented the weekend from being a complete disaster by downing West Liberty in its final match. The Hilltoppers had just a .108 hitting percentage in the loss.
Smith again led the way for URG with 18 kills, 15 digs and four blocks, while Sherman and Schramm had 12 kills each. Sherman also had five blocks.
Martin (25) and Landaker (18) combined for all but two of Rio’s team total in assists, , while Raines had 24 digs and sophomore defensive specialist Jocelyn George had 10 digs.
West Liberty (3-5) got 26 assists and 16 digs from Chelsea Byrge, while Rachel Zeigler had 11 kills and 11 digs and Nikki Sadecky posted 12 kills. Courtney Pyeritz and Gabbie Davis tallied 16 and 10 digs, respectively, while Emily Mellie had six blocks.
Rio Grande will attempt to get back to the .500 mark for the season when it returns to action Tuesday night, traveling to West Virginia University Tech for a 7 p.m. first serve.
The Golden Bears bring an 0-2 mark into Tuesday’s contest, dropping straight-sets decisions to both Virginia Intermont and Ohio Valley University.