RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande’s night began with a blown lead in the opening set.
It ended with a blown lead that short-circuited what would’ve been a dramatic comeback.
West Virginia University-Tech scored the final four points of the fifth and deciding set to post a 3-2 (27-25, 26-24, 24-26, 10-25, 16-14) victory over the RedStorm, Tuesday night, in River States Conference volleyball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The Golden Bears improved to 3-3 overall and 3-3 in the RSC with the victory.
Rio Grande fell to 6-4 overall and 3-3 in conference play as a result of the loss.
The RedStorm got off to a blistering start in set one by opening up a 24-14 advantage, but WVU-Tech roared to life and scored 13 of the next 14 points to grab an early match lead.
The Golden Bears kept things going in the second stanza as well, finishing on a 13-6 run to erase an 18-13 deficit and take a commanding edge in the match.
Tech looked as if it would make quick work of its host by bolting to a 15-9 lead in set three, but Rio began the road back with a 17-9 spurt to finish the period and force a fourth set. The RedStorm scored the final three points of the set, the first of which came after the game officials reversed their original call of a kill by Tech’s Brooklyn Cook which would’ve produced a 25-23 win for the Bears.
Rio Grande parlayed its new-found momentum into an easy set four win, jumping to a 15-4 advantage and leading by as many as 15 points twice in the period.
The RedStorm also scored six of the first of seven points in the final set, but Tech responded with an 8-3 run of its own and forged a 9-9 tie on the third of three straight blocks.
Rio eventually moved to within a point of finishing off the comeback after an attack error by Tech’s Ana Alonso Olea made it 14-12, but the Bears scored the final four winners – the last of two of which were Rio attack errors – to survive and get the win.
Katelyn Byrd and Ana Muniz Rocandio finished with 13 and 11 kills, respectively, for WVU-Tech, while Lucie Strasser and Julia McClanahan added 26 and 18 assists, respectively, in the winning effort.
Byrd and Sawyer Hawgood finished with 27 digs apiece for the Golden Bears, while Valentina Abondano had 17, Muniz Rocandio tallied 15 and Strasser had 10. Adriana Gentzler added five solo blocks and Michaela Hall finished with three solo blocks and three block assists.
Junior Jess Youse (Pettisville, OH) had a career-high 17 kills to lead Rio Grande, while sophomore Malorie Colwell (London, OH) and freshman Amanda Rarick (Canal Winchester, OH) had 13 kills each.
Senior Macy Roell (Farmersville, OH) finished with a career-high 54 assists in a losing cause, while freshman Kyli Ricker (Plain City, OH) had match-best 34 digs and three service aces.
Roell also had 27 digs for the RedStorm, while sophomore Kacie Trame (Toledo, OH) and senior Baleigh Bradley (Portsmouth, OH) added 25 and 20 digs, respectively. Colwell and Youse had 17 and 14 digs, respectively.
Rio Grande finished with an NAIA single-game high 145 digs as a team.
The RedStorm also had 13 more kills than their guests, 61-48, but WVU Tech tallied 15 solo blocks and six block assists as a team.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.