URG volleyball sweeps regular season finale

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

LAURINBURG, N.C. — The University of Rio Grande volleyball team closed out its regular season schedule with two more wins, posting straight sets victories over Montreat (N.C.) College and match host St. Andrews University on Saturday afternoon.

The RedStorm defeated Montreat 25-16, 25-13, 25-19 in their opening match of the day, before taking down the host Knights 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 in the regular season finale.

Head coach Billina Donaldson’s squad improved to 26-7 with the sweep, giving the program its most wins in a single season since the 1992 team finished 37-9 when Donaldson – then known as Billina Cooper – was earning the first of her consecutive Mid-Ohio Conference and District 22 Player of the Year honors.

The wins also extended Rio’s winning streak to eight straight, the program’s longest such streak since a seven-match win streak from Oct. 15-28, 2012.

Montreat, which also lost to St. Andrews earlier in the day, slipped to 7-29 with the two losses, while the Knights ended the day at 20-9 after the split.

Junior Kayla Briley (Marion, OH) led the way against Montreat, tallying a team-high 32 assists and 13 digs to go along with a service ace. Senior Alex Phillips (Orient, OH) and sophomore Aleah Pelphrey (Piketon, OH) finished with 11 kills each.

Sophomore Kylan Strausbaugh (Kingston, OH) and junior Chandler Brown (Stockdale, OH) added 11 and 10 digs, respectively, in the win, while junior Autumn Snider (Marion, OH) had five blocks – three solos and two assists.

Anyla Kryeziu had nine kills to lead the Cavaliers in a losing cause, while Abby Graham finished with 16 assists and 10 digs and Hitomi Fujikura added 10 assists.

Sara Rawls had a team-high 13 digs in the loss for Montreat.

Against St. Andrews, Pelphrey and Phillips led the winning effort along the net with 13 and 10 kills, respectively. Briley had 38 assists and Brown had 22 digs in the victory.

Angelica Arroyo had 13 kills to pace SAU in the loss, while Jaden Lynch had 33 assists and Tessa Smith had 13 digs.

Rio Grande finished with a .303 attack percentage against Montreat, while recording a .241 mark in the triumph over St. Andrews.

Rio Grande returns to action on Friday night in the quarterfinal round of the KIAC Tournament at the Newt Oliver Arena. The RedStorm will be the tourney’s No. 6 seed and will face third-seeded Point Park at 5 p.m.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing