Big Weekend Moves Volleyball Into 2nd Place in Big South

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By Lucas Carr | lcarr15@radford.edu

Oct. 19 and 20 were two significant days for the Highlander Volleyball team as they sweep two back-to-back home victories. Both wins against the Runnin’ Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb and the Eagles of Winthrop University shifts Radford into sole ownership of the 2nd place spot in the Big South.

Boasting a record of 16-3 and 8-2 in conference play, the women are showing the rest of the league how much of a contender they are.

Coming off a robust exhibition on the road, the Highlanders were raring to go from the jump. From the get-go, the women played with a point to prove to capture kill after kill. President Hemphill was in attendance, bow-tie and all, and could attest to this.

Midway through the beginning set, Freshman Kylie Tuxford launched one over the left net. The ball was a blue and white blur as it came speeding onto the opposing side. It took a turn bouncing off three Gardner-Webb defenders before quickly hitting the paint. The Highlanders took the first set 25-19.

At the start of the 2nd set, scoring was opened up immediately by Senior Haley Kleespies as she sailed the ball into an open area in the defense. Radford claimed the set with an astronomical lead of 25-11.

A brief intermission between the second and third set called for Highlander fan and volleyball aficionado, Andrew Collier, to state, “They have awesome communication. I’m impressed.”

Tuxford closed the curtain on GWU as she hammered one over the net to end the match three sets to none.

Saturday’s 4 p.m. game was “Dig Pink Day” down by the New River. The Highlanders were able to win three sets yet again against the Winthrop Eagles.  Holding onto a 16-15 lead in the first set, the women were able to tally four straight points to end any hope for the Eagles to take the lead.

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Junior Stephanie Neast flaunted a .857 hitting average and recorded four consecutive kills to end the 2nd set. For the first time all weekend, the Highlanders were forced to mount a comeback. The score was 17-14, and seemingly the Eagles looked as if they would secure the 3rd set.

Radford was able to score six times with no rebuttal to emphatically shut down the opposing team as they subsequently took the final set 25-17.

The weekend proved to be a cool one for the Women’s Volleyball team regarding the weather and stats. Stephanie Neast went home Saturday night with 24 kills safely in her pocket. Valerie Gonzalez was able to put away 19 kills, two aces and Mallory McKnight tallied 21 kills, seven blocks on the weekend. Haley Kleespies assisted her teammates 43 times on Friday night and 37 times on Saturday for a total of 80 assists.

Now, 2nd place in the Big South, The Highlanders will move onto Campbell in Buies Creek, North Carolina on Friday.

The Campbell Camels are 7-13 and 5-5 in conference play and are looking to knock Radford from their 2nd place seat. The Women’s Volleyball team have their eyes on 1st place and are looking forward to continuing their hot streak on the road this week.

Photo Credit: (Hailey Scherer | The Tartan)