Smith leads Rio volleyball in rout of UVA-Wise
by Randy Payton
Special to OVP
RIO GRANDE, Ohio — As the regular season portion of the University of Rio Grande’s 2012 volleyball campaign heads into the home stretch, the RedStorm find themselves continuing to roll.
Head coach Billina Donaldson’s team picked up its 15th win in its last 18 outings and remained perfect in seven home dates, cruising to a 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-13) win over the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Tuesday night, in Mid-South Conference action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The RedStorm improved to 18-8 overall and 9-3 in conference play, temporarily tying Campbellsville University for third place in the MSC standings.
The tie will be broken one way or the other on Thursday, when Campbellsville hosts St. Catharine College.
Tuesday’s win over UVA-Wise saw Rio essentially control the entire match.
The RedStorm tallied a .444 hitting percentage in game one and led throughout.
The Highland Cavaliers did hold a 17-13 lead in game two before Rio mounted a 12-5 run to close things out. The game was tied as late as 22-22, but the RedStorm won it on three straight service winners by senior libero Lauren Raines (Albany, OH), punctuated by kills from senior outside hitter Whitney Smith on each point.
Game three was never close, with Rio jumping to a 20-7 lead and never looking back. Hitting again told the tale, with UVA-Wise posting a .207 percentage (9 kills, 3 errors, 29 attacks) compared to a .538 showing by the RedStorm (16 kills, 2 errors, 26 attacks).
Rio Grande, which entered the match ranked second in the MSC and seventh in the country with a .287 team hitting percentage, had a .412 percentage for the match. Smith had 17 kills, nine digs and a dazzling .708 hitting percentage to lead Rio in the win, while senior middle blocker Erin Sherman added 12 kills and a pair of blocks.
Junior setter Kayla Landaker added 21 assists and two service aces to the winning effort, while junior setter Kelsey Martin had 19 assists of her own.
Robyn Dougherty had 10 kills and two aces to lead the Cavs (7-22, 4-9), while Veronica Sanchez had 20 assists and two blocks.
India Dillard contributed 11 digs and Maya Hamlett also had two blocks in a losing cause for Wise.
Rio Grande returns to action next Monday, traveling to the University of Pikeville for a 7 p.m. first serve.
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