SEATTLE – (Oct. 7) Behind an outstanding offensive performance and some timely big serves, Seattle University volleyball took down Western Athletic Conference leader UTRGV in five sets Saturday afternoon in the Connolly Complex.
The Redhawks won the second, fourth and fifth sets in the 16-25, 25-22, 16-25, 25-20, 15-12 final over the Vaqueros. Seattle U improved to 6-12 overall and 2-3 in WAC play while UTRGV fell to 10-8 overall and suffered its first league loss, moving to 4-1.
In an effort to relieve some pressure off of junior setter Shae Harris, who has been hampered by a hand injury, the Redhawks mixed up their rotation and got quality play out of freshman Anna Palmer. Harris finished with 34 assists and eight digs while Palmer added 16 assists and nine digs.
“What a great job of Anna coming in and setting for the first time this season,” said SU Head Coach James Finley. “With the change in rotation I felt we had a new sense of focus and it really contributed to a solid offensive performance.”
Katarina Marinkovic led the way with 14 kills to go along with 12 digs and six block assists. Also in double figures were Katarina Glavinic with 13 kills and Maja Stojanovic with 10. Victoria Demmene added eight kills, Mahra McLeod led all players with seven block assists and Tijana Milojevic collected 23 digs.
After battling tight to begin the first set, the Redhawks faltered late and UTRGV pulled away for the 25-16 win. The second set saw a similar start, but Seattle U kept its stride throughout. The Redhawks snapped a 16-16 tie on a McLeod kill and would not trail again in the 25-22 win.
The Vaqueros came out of the 10-minute break to claim set-three 25-16, but in the must-win fourth set, Seattle U got back-to-back kills from Demmene and Glavinic to snap an 18-18 tie. The Redhawks would hold on as back-to-back blocks by Stojanovic and Glavinic, and Stojanovic and Marinkovic accounted for the final two points of the set.
The fifth set saw eight ties and five lead changes. Michelle Taynton came up with a big service ace, the Redhawks’ seventh of the match, to make it 11-all. A Glavinic kill put Seattle U on top 12-11 and forced a UTRGV timeout.
Out of the break, the Vaqueros committed an attack error as Seattle U went ahead, 13-11. A Ragni Steen Knudsen kill made it 13-12, but Glavinic put down her 13th kill of the day and a UTRGV attack went long as Seattle U clinched the victory.
“Katarina Marinkovic struggled early but really stepped up big in the last two sets,” said Finley. “Tijana was also huge with 10 digs in the fourth set, which was a must-win set for us. And we really put the pressure on them with our short serve, which they struggled to pass out of. All around a really solid performance today.”
The Redhawks head back out on the road next week, traveling to WAC rivals UMKC on Thursday and Chicago State on Saturday.