Bears keep tear going, win in straight sets at UPike

PIKEVILLE, Ky. — The Shawnee State University volleyball team, in a Mid-South Conference matchup against Pikeville, continued to keep its strong tear rolling on Thursday evening — utilizing a double-double from three-time MSC Attacker of the Week Macie Rhoads and a strong attacking performance from Bella Gill in a straight-set victory over Pikeville (25-6, 25-21, 25-22) at UPike Gymnasium.

With the win, Shawnee State (9-8, 7-5 Mid-South Conference) improved its mark to the right side of .500 for the first time since Sept. 27, 2018 — when SSU also defeated UPike on the road to improve to 10-9.

SSU also posted its best conference record through 12 games in MSC action since 2014, when it sat 16-14 and 7-5 in conference play on Oct. 28 of that season against — you guessed it — UPike.

In winning its seventh game out of its last eight, Shawnee State has posted a streak that hasn’t been matched since the 2012 team — which finished 22-13 — won nine of 10 matches during the midway point of its season from Sept. 22 to Oct. 6.

Rhoads keeps first-team

caliber campaign going

Truly an outstanding talent, the 2019 first-team all-MSC honoree Rhoads continues to put together a season that will have the junior repeating that feat.

Continuing her streak of strong attack percentages, Rhoads got rolling in the opening set — as she posted five of her 12 kills during a massive 14-0 run that allowed Shawnee State to take a dominating 25-6 win.

Holding seven spikes in all after the opening set, Rhoads added in two additional kills over the first eight volleys of the second, helping the Bears maintain and build on their advantage — despite a much stronger UPike effort over the second and third frames.

For the match, Rhoads’ 12 kills to just four errors on 21 attack attempts allowed the Circleville native to finish with a stout .381 attack percentage, while leading all match participants in spikes.

She also posted match-highs of 22 digs and three service aces, while not committing a single reception error defensively — despite the heavy workload.

For her career, Rhoads continues to add to her totals — as the 5-9 outside hitter now has 1,033 kills and 940 digs.

She has 262 kills, 282 digs and 43 aces through 17 matches this season, all while hitting a career-best .267 on the attack.

Gill, Cochran, Fiesler big

Like Rhoads, the play of Gill, Emilee Cochran and Darian Fiesler was also critical in the win.

Gill, a 6-1 junior front line player from Wooster, notched six kills on just nine attack attempts with no errors for a .667 attack percentage — with three of those coming in the third set to allow SSU to rally from a 7-2 deficit en route to taking the 25-22 victory.

Cochran added in 13 digs defensively while Fiesler, who has a quick and low-arching serve, kept Pikeville’s defense on its toes — serving out the final 14 points in the opening-set win.

She notched both of her service aces during this span, including one on the 31st and final volley of the first set that gave SSU a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

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Maria Kolinoff’s 11 assists and seven digs — along with Nash Shelby’s six kills, two-and-a-half total blocks and a .286 attack percentage — also proved to be decisive in the SSU win.

Shawnee State, which obtained the series sweep against Pikeville, will look to do the same against Thomas More on Saturday afternoon in Portsmouth.

Match time is set for 1 p.m. inside Waller Gymnasium.

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