Texas Border Business
ABILENE – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Vaqueros volleyball team came back from a 1-2 deficit to beat the Abilene Christian University Wildcats 3-2 (25-15, 22-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-12) on Thursday at the Teague Center.
Junior Sarah Cruz led the Vaqueros (10-6, 2-1 WAC) with 23 kills, 15 digs and a career-high tying seven blocks for her sixth double-double of the season. Sophomore Luisa Silva Dos Santos posted a career-high 10 blocks, tied for the seventh-highest single-match total in program history, to go with six kills. Sophomore Loanna Charitonidi recorded nine kills and 12 digs. Senior Veronika Jandova posted seven kills and three blocks. Freshman Luanna Emiliano posted her 12th double-double with 46 assists, 17 digs and four kills. Freshman Edinburg North alum Evana Ramos finished with a career-high 23 digs.
Jada Birkel led the Wildcats (6-8, 0-3 WAC) with 15 kills and three blocks. Breanna Box recorded 13 kills and four blocks. Bryley Steinhilber posted 10 kills and 14 digs and two blocks. Emily Van Dyke posted nine kills, 10 digs and five blocks. Braden Bossier finished with nine kills and eight blocks.
Charitonidi recorded three early kills to help the Vaqueros jump out to a 7-1 lead in the first set. The Wildcats pulled to within three at 5-8. The Vaqueros responded by scoring four of the next five points to go up 12-6 on a Cruz kill. The Vaqueros pushed their lead to seven at 18-11 on a block by Jandova and sophomore Maria Eduarda Rodrigues. Then, with the score 19-14, a Jandova kill sparked a 6-1 run to end the set.
The Vaqueros opened the second set up 3-2 on a Charitonidi kill before the Wildcats won three-straight serves as part of a 4-1 run to go up 6-4. The Vaqueros scored the next two points to tie the set, but the Wildcats followed with back-to-back points to regain the lead. The Vaqueros got as close as one at 11-12 on a Santos kill before the Wildcats went on an 8-3 run to go up 20-14. The Vaqueros followed with a 7-3 run to pull within 21-23 on a Rodrigues kill. The Vaqueros were also within 22-24 on a Rodrigues kill before a Birkel kill ended the set.
The Wildcats jumped out a 5-1 lead in the third set. Three Cruz kill helped the Vaqueros respond with a 7-1 run to take an 8-6 lead. The Wildcats answered by winning five-straight serves to regain the lead. Two serves later, with the score 9-12, the Vaqueros went on a 5-0 run, capped by a kill by junior Yasmim da Silva, to go up 14-12. The Vaqueros still led by two on a da Silva kill that made the score 15-13. The Wildcats won the next three serves to take the lead before a Charitonidi kill tied the score at 16 and a Cruz kill tied the score at 17. The set was also tied at 18 and 19 before the Wildcats scored four-straight points to take the lead for good.
Kills by Cruz and Santos helped the Vaqueros jump out to a 7-3 lead in the fourth set. After a timeout, the Wildcats won nine of 10 serves to take a 12-8 lead. Then, with the score 10-14, Cruz came up with three-straight kills to spark a 13-3 run to give the Vaqueros a 23-17 lead. A pair of kills by freshman Ingridy Foltran put the set away.
The Wildcats led 4-1 out of the gate in set five. A Cruz kill sparked a 4-0 run to put the Vaqueros up 5-4. The Wildcats scored the next three points before the Vaqueros scored back-to-back points to tie the set at 7. One serve later, a Foltran kill tied the set 8. Then, with the Vaqueros down 8-10, Emiliano and Jandova came up with kills to tie the set. One serve later, the Vaqueros went on a 4-0 run to reach match point. One serve after that, a Jandova kill ended the match.
UTRGV is back in action on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Tarleton. Fans can watch in the United States on ESPN+ or internationally on the WAC Digital Network.