Rio rallies to upend Red Wolves

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The 2021 home finale for the University of Rio Grande women’s volleyball team was one chock full of scoring runs.

Fortunately, those runs favored the RedStorm in the end.

Head coach Billina Donaldson’s squad rallied from big deficits to begin both the third and fourth set en route to a 3-1 (24-26, 25-21, 25-23, 25-22) victory over Indiana University East, Wednesday night, in River States Conference action at the Newt Oliver Arena.

Rio Grande, which won for the fourth time in its last six outings, improved to 9-13 overall and 7-7 in league play with the win.

The victory snapped an eight-game losing streak for the RedStorm against the Red Wolves and was just Rio’s third win in 16 all-time meetings with IUE — its first since consecutive wins on Oct. 15 and Oct. 25, 2016.

The East Division-leading Red Wolves, who lost for the fifth time in their last seven matches, slipped to 14-11 overall and 9-4 in the RSC with the loss.

IUE was the beneficiary of a scoring spurt of its own in set one, reeling of six straight winners to thwart off a 24-20 deficit.

The Red Wolves also erased a pair of three-point deficits late in set two to forge a 21-all deadlock, but Rio Grande evened the match by scoring the final four points of the stanza — three on which came on blocks by the RedStorm of IUE attacks.

Rio finished with five solo blocks and a season-high 26 block assists as a team, the program’s top defensive game at the net since recording eight solos and 24 assists, ironically enough, against IU East on Oct. 4, 2019.

The RedStorm trailed 8-2 to begin set three and found itself down 20-16 late in the period before scoring nine of the final 12 points to win the set and grab the match lead.

IUE bolted to an 8-1 advantage in the fourth set and maintained a 21-17 cushion late, but Rio Grande rallied for eight of the final nine winners to close things out.

Sophomore Amanda Rarick (Canal Winchester, OH) had 19 kills to go along with one solo block and six block assists, while junior Jess Youse (Pettisville, OH) had 14 kills, four block assists and three service aces in the winning effort.

Freshman Avery Huntzinger (Canal Winchester, OH) had 39 assists for the RedStorm, while sophomore Darcie Walters (Sparta, OH) had 15 digs and fellow sophomore Shalea Byrd (Canal Winchester, OH) had three solo blocks and nine block assists.

Jessica Swimm led IU East with 19 kills and 14 digs, while Brooke Lepper had 11 digs and Sheridan Phillips finished with 10 digs, one solo block and five block assists.

Reece Shirley added 45 assists, 12 digs and five block assists for the Red Wolves, while Sammei Fulkerson-Bird tallied 11 digs and Jenna Mitchell served up four aces in a losing cause.

Rio Grande returns to action on Friday night when it begins a four-game road trip to close out the regular season at Carlow University.

First serve is set for 7 p.m.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

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

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