RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande jumped to a big lead early in game one and pulled away late in each of the next two games to post a 3-0 “Senior Night” sweep of Bluefield (Va.) College, Thursday night, in Mid-South Conference volleyball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The RedStorm defeated the Rams by identical scores of 25-16, 25-16, 25-16 to win for the 17th time in their last 20 outings.
Rio Grande improved to 20-8 overall and 11-3 in league play, moving into a three-way tie for second place in the conference standings with Campbellsville and Lindsey Wilson.
The Rams, who managed just a .149 hitting percentage for the match, fell to 16-21 overall and 4-9 in the MSC with the loss.
Rio jumped to a 12-6 lead in game one and, after a Bluefield timeout, extended its cushion to 19-7. The Rams drew to within 21-13, but got no closer the rest of the way.
The RedStorm grabbed a 4-0 lead in game two, before BC sliced the deficit to 13-12. Head coach Billina Donaldson’s squad put down the rally, though, scoring 12 of the game’s final 16 points to win going away.
Game three stayed close for a while before Rio finally opened up a 17-13 edge. The Rams scored back-to-back points after calling a timeout to cut the deficit in half, but the RedStorm scored eight of the final nine points to complete the sweep and remain undefeated in eight home matches.
Senior outside hitter Whitney Smith (Albany, OH) - one of three seniors recognized in pre-match ceremonies - had a match-high 11 kills and three service aces to go along with a team-high nine digs in the winning effort.
Smith’s fellow honorees also figured into the victory.
Defensive specialist Lauren Raines (Albany, OH) also had nine digs for the RedStorm, while middle blocker Erin Sherman (South Webster, OH) had nine kills and two blocks.
Junior setter Kayla Landaker, who was also honored because she will graduate in the spring and will not return next fall, had a match-high 19 assists and tied Smith with three aces.
Junior setter Kelsey Martin added 15 assists, while sophomore middle blocker Morgan Daniels and freshman middle blocker Alex Phillips tied for team honors with three blocks each.
Jasmine Morrow had nine kills and Cheznee Daily tallied 17 assists in the loss for Bluefield.
Steffi Dutton and Colby Combs added eight digs each for the Rams, while Amber Taylor-Inge finished with two blocks.
Rio Grande closes out its regular season schedule on Friday, hosting Notre Dame College (5-21) for a 5 p.m. first serve.
As a result of the Giovanni’s Pizza Tipoff Classic being played inside the Newt Oliver Arena, Friday’s regular season finale against the Falcons will be played in the lower gymnasium at the Lyne Center.