How It Happened
Playing from behind throughout the match, No. 2 Rhode Island eventually ran out of time as it was upset in five sets (25-20, 23-25, 25-17, 20-25, 15-11) by third-seeded host Saint Louis in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Championship Saturday night.
The fifth and deciding set featured seven ties in the first 15 points. After a Sam Roberts kill tied the set 7-7 for the Rams (17-10), Saint Louis (18-13) scored the next three points to grab the first real advantage of the set. A-10 Player of the Year Danielle Rygelski came up with a kill to end a long rally that featured several digs by both teams. Rygelski followed with an ace, and a Rhody attack error made it 10-7. The Rams closed the gap to 10-9, but the Billikens ended the match with a 5-2 run.
Struggles with its service game cost Rhode Island in the first set, as the Rams made six errors in the opening frame. The struggles continued into the second set, as five more service errors had the Rams trailing. At the risk of going down two sets to start the match, Rhode Island got hot at just the right moment in the second set. Down a set and trailing 23-21, the Rams ended the second set on a 5-0 run to knot the match. Audrey Castro got a kill and then added an ace to tie the match. A three-player block from Layne Self, Callan Kinnan and Kylee Wolfe gave Rhody set point, and Self buried a free ball to give the Rams the set.
After 11 ties in the early part of the third set, Saint Louis took over. The Billikens ended the set on a 10-3 run to take the 2-1 lead. Rygelski had four kills during the stretch, giving her 16 through the first three sets.
With their backs against the wall, the Rams took control of the fourth set early. Rhody got out to a 9-3 lead and never let Saint Louis get closer than three points, forcing the decisive fifth set.
With the win, Saint Louis played its way into Sunday's A-10 title game.
Inside the Box Score
- Senior Audrey Castro led Rhode Island with 19 kills and added six digs and four blocks.
- Senior Layne Self had eight kills and a match-high nine blocks.
- Senior Callan Kinnan had 42 assists. She finished the year with 1,014 assists, making her the first Rhody player in the rally point era to record 1,000 kills in four seasons. She also had seven digs.
- Junior Sam Roberts had nine kills, three digs and three block assists.
- The second set featured 10 ties, while the third set had 11 ties and eight lead changes.
- Rhode Island committed 19 service errors, 11 of which came in the first two sets.
- The match was the final one for head coach Bob Schneck, who is retiring after 36 seasons at Rhode Island. He finished his career with 618 victories.
Stat of the Match
25 – Saint Louis star Danielle Rygelski had a match-high 25 kills.