It was a five-set thriller in Wheelock Gymnasium on Wednesday night that featured long rallies, clutch moments, and endless grit on both ends of the hardwood. The Riverside City College indoor volleyball squad played host to the No. 18 Orange Coast College Pirates in Orange Empire Conference (OEC) play to kick off conference action. The Tigers hung in tough, but eventually fell in five sets with final set scores reading 25-16, 23-25, 16-25, and 11-15.
Riverside came out of the gates on fire by dominating the first set of play. They epitomized the definition of flawlessness by not committing a single error throughout the first set. Additionally, in each set the Tigers won, they carted a hitting percentage above .300.
It was an offensive melee from the start as seen in a trio of Tigers landing in double-digit kills. Sophomore outside hitter Marcella Rodriguez paced the squad with 50 total attempts and cashed in 15 kills. She was dynamic on the defensive front as seen in 19 total digs. Freshman outside hitter Vashti Elias-Romero equaled Rodriguez's kill mark with 15 on just 33 attempts (.455 hitting percentage). She recorded 14 digs and chipped in one service ace.
Sophomore outside hitter Julia Balancier reached 10 total kills on the night which marked her fourth game of the year landing in double-digits. She was efficient in her attempts as seen in a .241 hitting percentage. Sophomore middle Rozarya Barrett was one kill shy from the double-digit kills mark with nine total. She recorded a block solo and block assist as well.
A strong defense transforms into stronger offense and sophomore libero Natalie Escher turned that statement into fact. She was a leader on the defensive line with 26 digs to mark her season high.
Riverside (6-4, 1-0 OEC) will host the Golden West College Rustlers (3-3, 1-0 OEC) on Friday, September 21. First serve is set for 6 p.m.