Rio Grande Sports Information
RIO GRANDE, Ohio - Friday night's 2017 home debut for the University of Rio Grande volleyball team did not go as planned.
The RedStorm coughed up an early lead in an eventual non-conference loss to River States Conference rival Midway University before falling in straight sets to arch-rival Shawnee State University in the opening round of the Emileigh Cooper Memorial Tournament at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Midway earned a 12-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-23 triumph in its meeting with Rio, while Shawnee State recorded a 25-20, 27-25, 25-14 victory over the RedStorm.
The two losses left head coach Billina Donaldson's squad at 1-6 for the season.
After rolling to the opening set win against the Eagles, Rio appeared headed to a 2-0 match lead when a kill by senior Aleah Pelphrey (Piketon, OH) gave the RedStorm a 23-19 lead, but Midway scored the final six points of the set - four on Rio attack errors and two on service aces by Hannah Payne - to even the match at 1-1.
The RedStorm led 12-9 in set three before a 5-0 Midway spurt gave the Eagles a lead it wouldn't relinquish and 6-1 run by MU to close out set four finished off the match.
Jennifer Harden and Raquel Bowers had nine kills each to pace Midway, while Ashley Sherrard had 27 assists and 11 digs in the winning effort. Payne added 17 digs of her own and Harden had 10, while Harden also had a solo block and five block assists.
Pelphrey had 12 kills and 14 digs to lead Rio Grande in the loss, while freshmen Ryan Stoffel (Englewood, OH) and Carly Shriver (Gallipolis, OH) had 15 and 14 assists, respectively, to go along with 11 digs each.
Freshman Taylor Carroll (Atlanta, GA) also had 11 digs in a losing cause, with fellow frosh Baleigh Bradley (Portsmouth, OH) tallying 10 digs.
Against Shawnee State, Rio scored the first two points of the opening set before the Bears reeled off five points to grab the lead for good. SSU also scored four of the final six points to take set two and led from nearly start to finish in the third stanza to complete the sweep.
Pelphrey had 13 kills to lead Rio Grande in the loss. Stoffel and freshman Ashton Ward (Chillicothe, OH) had 13 and 12 assists and five digs, respectively, while Bradley also had five digs.
Carson Roney had 17 kills to lead Shawnee State, while Christina Shelton added 11 of her own. Roney also had four block assists to equal teammate Elaina Davenport for game-high honors.
Deanna Smith had 42 assists to lead the Bears - who had a .340 attack percentage - and Brianna Wiget had 10 digs.
Rio Grande closes out the two-day event on Saturday, facing Marian (Ind.) University in the 9 a.m. opener and Mount Vernon Nazarene University in the 3 p.m. wrapup at Jackson High School.