RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A balanced team effort on Saturday afternoon saw three Redhawks finish with double-figure kills and two notch double-digit digs, as the Seattle U volleyball (9-5) close its non-conference schedule in winning fashion, downing UC Riverside, 3-1 (25-19, 21-25, 25-21, 25-20) on the final day of the UC Riverside Classic.
For the second consecutive night Rachel Stark led the way with a match-best 17 kills to accompany 12 digs, for her third double-double in as many outings. Eve Kerschenbaum followed with 15 kills, while Sofia Sanchez had 10.
Lauren McCabe and Johnasia Carr were presence at the net with six and five blocks, respectively. Tijana Milojevic meanwhile anchored the backline with a match-high 27 digs en route before being named to the all-tournament team.
The Redhawks used a 6-0 run midway through the opening frame, turning a 14-13 deficit into a 19-14 advantage. UC Riverside accounted for the four of the next five points, but Highlander miscues pushed the SU lead to 22-18. Sanchez and Carr then teamed for a pair of assisted blocked setting up game point which was achieved by McCabe.
Seattle U raced out to a 5-1 lead to open the second with kills from Stark, Kerschenbaum and Sanchez. Riverside battled back twice trimming the margin to one, until pulling level at 12. SU responded though with a 4-1 run regaining a lead at 16-13. The Highlanders then bullied their way out front scoring nine unanswered for a 23-17 advantage, en route to tying the match at a set apiece.
After hitting .241 in the first and .128 in the third, the Seattle U attack regained its rhythm during the final two frames, hitting .343 and .244 in the third and fourth sets, respectively.
Neither was able to grab a possession of the early as they battled to five ties during the opening 12 points. Tied 6-6, the Highlanders then broke free behind a 3-0 spurt. Maintaining control Riverside pushed the score 18-15. Seattle U though rebounded with a 5-0 run to lead, 20-18. UC Riverside twice closed the margin to one down the stretch, but a rally would not collect steam as the Redhawks closed on a 4-1 run, with Kerschenbaum contributing a trio of kills.
Level at 9-9, the Redhawks seized control of the fourth set with a 5-1 rally as Kerschenbaum, Sanchez and Carr each landed kills while Milojevic tallied one of her two aces of the day. Seattle U maintained control, pushing the score 19-15 before leading by as much as seven late, 24-17, before Sanchez secured the final point and the match.
The Redhawks finished the match with a .236 to .182 hitting advantage and dominated the team blocks, 12-2, while UCR held a 71-66 advantages in digs.
Seattle U will return to action on Thursday, Sept. 26 when it opens its conference slate with last season’s champion, UT Rio Grande Valley. First serve from the Redhawk Center is slated for 5 pm. Single-match and season tickets for all Seattle U volleyball home WAC matches can be purchased by visiting GoSeattleU.com/tix.