RICHMOND, Ind. — The University of Rio Grande coughed up an early lead before roaring back down the stretch to defeat Indiana University East, 3-2, in River States Conference volleyball action, Tuesday night, at Lingle Court.
The RedStorm completed a regular season sweep of the Red Wolves by scores of 25-17, 21-25, 22-25, 25-16, 15-13.
Rio Grande improved to 19-12 overall and 9-4 in the RSC with the victory, securing the No. 2 seed in the East Division for the upcoming conference tournament in the process.
IU East slipped to 12-17 overall and 5-8 in league play with the loss.
The Red Wolves had the 2-1 match lead and were tied 10-10 in set four when Rio junior Aleah Pelphrey (Piketon, OH) reeled off consecutive service aces to kickstart an 11-2 run by RedStorm, which included seven straight winners at one stretch.
Rio Grande closed out the fourth set to force a fifth and deciding stanza.
The fifth set was tied at 4-4 until consecutive service aces by Rio junior Kylan Strausbaugh (Chillicothe, OH) and the RedStorm never trailed again the rest of the way.
Rio Grande finished with 10 aces as a team, marking just the second time this season it reached double figures in the category.
The RedStorm also finished with a 62-47 edge in kills and had a quartet of players with 10 or more,led by freshman Patricia Dennis (Celina, OH) with 15. Senior Autumn Snider (Marion, OH) added 12 kills, while freshmen Rachael Gilkey (Nelsonville, OH) and Marley Hanzel (Wheelersburg, OH) had 11 each.
Gilkey also finished with six blocks (1 solo, 5 assists).
Senior Kayla Briley (Marion, OH) had a match-high 48 assists to go along with 14 digs, while senior Chandler Brown (Stockdale, OH) had a match-best 19 digs and Pelphrey finished with 12.
Bailey Gates had 13 kills to lead IU East at the net, while Sydney Durham and Breanna Kopke had 11 and 10, respectively. Durham and Kopke were also part of five blocks each.
Meg Hicks led the Red Wolves with 37 assists and 12 digs, while Emily Jones also tallied 12 digs in a losing cause.
Rio Grande returns to action on Saturday when it faces Asbury University and Midway University as part of an RSC Crossover event at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The RedStorm will face Midway in the 11 a.m. opener before tangling with Asbury in the 2 p.m. finale.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.