RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Going into Wednesday’s contest against Rio Grande, Shawnee State had not only taken both of the previous matches played on the season in straight sets, but had won each of those matches by an average of nearly seven points in each set.
Unfortunately for the Bears, the RedStorm would flip the script in the third and final match of the season between the two rivals as Rio Grande (17-5) took home a 3-1 (25-20, 14-25, 25-22, 25-16) victory over Shawnee State (11-12) in a nonconference bout at Newt Oliver Arena in Rio Grande.
For the match, the Bears and RedStorm would duke it out on the defensive end, as Rio Grande would record 93 compared to Shawnee State’s total of 84 while both teams would put up a total of nine blocks apiece.
However, the Bears’ frontline would be outhit on the attack by a fairly significant margin, with Shawnee State recording a .113 attack percentage compared to the RedStorm’s .171.
In the first set, the Bears would fall behind early as the RedStorm obtained a 14-4 lead to start the opening stanza of play. Shawnee State would go on a 16-10 rally to cut the deficit down to four, but could get no closer as Rio Grande took their first set of the season between the two squads.
The Bears would respond with a vengeance in the second set as Shawnee State jumped out to a monstrous 10-0 tilt off of the frontline play of Lauren Helbig and Ashley Galbrath, who used their efforts in this set to finish with attack percentages of over .250 for the match.
From that point forward, it seemed as if the Bears had regained control of the match as Shawnee State did not allow the RedStorm to come within seven points for the remainder of the second frame as the Bears held Rio Grande to a .000 attack percentage en route to a 11-point rout of the RedStorm in the aforementioned set.
The third set, however, would prove to be a stark contest from the previous pair of sets as both teams would trade the lead back-and-forth for more than two-dozen volleys as both teams sat at a 15-15 tie in the middle of the third set.
However, Rio Grande would break the set open with a 5-1 to take a 20-16 lead, and from that point forward, would hold steady with the advantage for the remainder of the set in taking a 25-22 victory in the third tilt.
From there, the RedStorm would take control. After building up an 11-8 lead to begin the fourth set, Rio Grande would go on a 9-4 tilt as Shawnee State would struggle to land a spike, allowing the RedStorm to take an advantage that they would not relinquish en route to the match victory.
Offensively, Shawnee State would be led by Helbig and Galbrath, with the Mansfield, Ohio duo recording 14 and 11 kills on .286 and .250 attack percentages. Bonnie Huesing would record all of the assists that the Bears would have on the evening – 37 – to head the Shawnee State attack.
Defensively, Madison Smith would pace the Bears once more with 26 digs to move just 77 away from the 2,000 dig mark for her career. Cassidy Shell and Rhyanna Day would also finish in double figures in the category, with 17 and 12, respectively.
The Shawnee State volleyball program will receive three straight days off from play before returning to action in hosting its own tri-match, where Kentucky Christian and Union (Ky.) will join the Bears in competing at the Frank & Janis Waller Gymnasium.
The tri-match, which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 24, will commence with a match between Kentucky Christian and Shawnee State at 12 p.m. The Knights will then play Union immediately following the initial match, and the Bears will return to action against the Bulldogs with a match that will begin at approximately 4 p.m.