RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande volleyball team nearly pulled off a shocker that, no doubt, would’ve turned some heads throughout the Mid-South Conference.
Instead, a raucous crowd was left to congratulate the RedStorm on an upset that almost was.
Lindsey Wilson College used a 5-0 run midway through the fifth and deciding set to turn a three-point deficit and the 11th-ranked Blue Raiders scored the final two points of the match en route to a 3-2 over Rio Grande, Saturday afternoon, at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Lindsey Wilson improved to 25-1 overall and 13-0 in conference play with the 25-23, 23-25, 25-27, 25-12, 16-14 victory, completing a regular season sweep of the RedStorm in the process.
The two-hour, four-minute marathon also marked just the fourth time this season that the Blue Raiders were extended to a full five sets.
Rio Grande dropped to 10-14 overall and 4-10 in the MSC with the loss.
“We came here today to win which, realistically, we probably wouldn’t have done against them at the start of the year,” said Rio Grande head coach Billina Donaldson, whose squad lost for just the fifth time in its last 14 outings. “We played really well, though. I think the girls are starting to get used to experiencing success. I think when we played them as close as we did in the first set that they realized how possible a win was today. We almost pulled it off at the end.”
Indeed, they did.
Rio opened a 4-1 lead in the fifth set and enjoyed an 8-5 cushion at the midway point switch, but the Blue Raiders scored the next five points and the RedStorm never led again.
The final set was tied at 13-13 and 14-14, but LWC scored the final two points to escape with the win.
The Blue Raiders also scored the final two points of the opening set to take a 1-0 lead, but it was the RedStorm who had the final two points of sets two and three to forge a 2-1 advantage. A 7-3 LWC lead early in set three marked the only time in the first three sets that either team led by more than three points.
Set four was a lopsided affair in favor of the visitors, as the Blue Raiders used an 11-1 run to open up a 13-point cushion and never looked back.
Lindsey Wilson, which played without the services of its kill leader, Nadelina Nesheva, and who lost starter Kala Meservey to a leg injury early in the second set, was led by Kailey Moorhead’s 18 kills. Sarah Anderson and Taylor Hayne added 16 and 15 kills, respectively, for the Blue Raiders.
Alexa Just finished with 55 assists in the winning effort, while Maeghan Allen, Kellie Ranney and Kirsten King had 24, 15 and 13 digs, respectively. Moorhead and Hayne had four assisted blocks each.
Junior Betsy Schramm (Marietta, OH) and freshman Miranda Clark (Beaver, OH) had 15 kills each for Rio Grande, while sophomore Alex Phillips (Williamsport, OH) and freshman Autumn Snider (Marion, OH) had 13 kills apiece in the loss.
Freshman Kayla Briley (Marion, OH) had 55 assists and 20 digs, while senior Nicole Ogg (Albany, OH) and freshman Chandler Brown (Beaver, OH) had 23 and 18 digs, respectively. Snider also had a solo block and two block assists.
“We made a few ball-handling errors that hurt us, but we never backed off,” Donaldson said. “The girls realized they had a great opportunity presented to them. The crowd really got loud and got behind us, we just came up a little short.”
Rio Grande returns to action next Friday when Campbellsville University visits for a 7 p.m. first serve.