Rio volleyball splits season opener

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The University of Rio Grande volleyball team found itself on both ends of the spectrum in its season-opening matches on Friday afternoon.

The RedStorm posted a straight sets rout of Florida Memorial University (25-18, 25-13, 25-17) before suffering a three-set loss at the hands of Warner (Fla.) University (25-13, 26-24, 25-12) in day one of the STU Classic hosted by St. Thomas University at the Fernandez Family Center.

Rio Grande controlled the play at the net in the opener against Florida Memorial, as the Lions finished with a -.062 hitting percentage after tallying 27 attack errors and 21 kills.

FMU also hurt its own cause by committing 12 service errors.

The RedStorm hit at a .232 clip for the match, but reeled off 13 kills against just three errors on 21 attacks in the second stanza for a .476 attack percentage.

After winning the first two sets with relative ease, Rio bolted to a 15-5 advantage in the final set before FMU went on an 11-2 run to pull within 17-16. Following a RedStorm timeout, Rio scored eight of the final nine points to nail down the straight sets win.

Senior Autumn Snider (Marion, OH) and sophomore Aleah Pelphrey (Piketon, OH) finished with nine and eight kills, respectively, in the winning effort, while senior Kayla Briley (Marion, OH) had 15 assists, senior Chandler Brown (Stockdale, OH) finished with 13 digs and freshman Rachel Gilkey (Nelsonville, OH) recorded four blocks.

Jessica Medina had seven kills to pace the Lions, while Angelique Lopez had a team-high nine assists and five digs.

In the final match of the day, the RedStorm managed just two more kills (18) than it had attack errors (16) and finished with an .024 attack percentage – a figure which included three kills and nine errors in 29 attacks (-.172 attack pct.) in the final set.

The Royals, who were among the schools receiving votes in the NAIA preseason Top 25, hit .290 for the match, including a sizzling .593 in set one (17 kills, 1 error, 27 attacks).

Snider had six kills and three blocks to lead Rio in a losing cause, while Briley had eight assists and Brown finished with 13 digs and a pair of service aces.

Adrienne Czaplewski and Angie Pagan-Perez finished with 13 and 12 kills, respectively, for Warner, while Raygen Lee and Jenna Swaffer added 21 and 13 assists, respectively, in the winning effort.

Thalia Mendez led the Royals with 20 digs.

Rio Grande will finish out its run in the two-day event on Saturday by facing host St. Thomas at 10 a.m. and squaring off with Doane (Neb.) at 4 p.m.

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

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing