SEATTLE — A depleted Seattle U volleyball lineup (9-6, 0-1 WAC) dropped its Western Athletic Conference opener to UT Rio Grande Valley (7-8, 1-0 WAC) in straight sets; 25-21, 25-17, 25-20 on Thursday evening at the Redhawk Center. The Redhawks struggled offensively as they were out hit .138 to .337 by the Vaqueros, though held favorable margins in team blocking, 6-3 and digs, 36-34.
Seattle U will continue conference action at the Redhawk Center on Saturday when it hosts NM State at 1 pm.
Slow starts in the first two frames doomed Seattle U early as it fell to 6-1 deficits to begin each. The Redhawks trailed by as much as eight midway through the first before putting together a 4-0 rally to make it 16-12. They narrowed the margin to two, 20-18, late behind an Eve Kerschenbaum kill and pair of UTRGV miscues but were unable to overcome the deficit. Kerschenbaum finished the evening with 10 kills and posted .400 hitting mark.
The Redhawks woes continued in the second as they surrendered six attack errors and again slipped into a 6-1 hole to start. Consecutive kills from Rachel Stark made it 12-7 midway through but the Vaqueros quickly stretch the margin to 20-11 en route to taking the frame 25-17.
Trailing the match 2-0, the Redhawks fought back in the third after following to 8-3 deficit to open. Following a timeout SU came out swinging as it strung together seven unanswered points to claim a 10-8 lead. Stark fueled the rally with three kills en route to finishing a team-best 14, while chipped in with a pair of assisted blocks.
The sides then traded scoring rallies producing four times and lead change that saw the Vaqueros two back-to-back points to a slim 16-14 lead. The Redhawks continued to battle holding the deficit to one until a 3-0 spurt gave UTRGV a 20-16 advantage. Seattle U continued to fight with a pair of kills from Kerschenbaum down the stretch but the effort was not enough as UTRGV completed the sweep.
In addition to the performances from Stark and Kerschenbaum, Kailee Kurokawa also had a notable night as she recorded a career-best 19 assists while Tijana Milojevic held the backline with 14 digs. Johnasia Carr also had a good outing finishing with a team-best four blocks.