Santonastaso Notches First Head Coaching Win as Rams Down Clemson 3-1

Photo Credit: Mike Scott
Photo Credit: Mike Scott

How It Happened
Steve Santonastaso picked up his first win as head coach of the Rams, guiding Rhode Island to a 3-1 victory over Clemson Friday night at the Yale Invitational. The Rams fell behind 1-0 but stormed back with three straight wins to claim the match and avenge last year's 3-0 loss to the Tigers.

The victory is URI's first over a current member of the ACC since defeating Boston College in 2008.

After dropping the opening set 25-17, Rhode Island bounced back with a 30-28 win in the second set. With the Tigers leading 4-3, Rhode Island reeled off five consecutive points - including back-to-back-to-back service aces by Marie Gillcrist - to pull ahead 8-4. The Rams held on to the lead until Clemson knotted it up at 20-20. The teams traded points the rest of the way with URI eventually coming out on top 30-28.

The Rams carried the momentum into the third set, where they trailed 4-2 before taking control of the set. Consecutive kills by Rachel Lynne Cox capped another 5-0 Rhody push that put the Rams in front for good. URI extended it's lead to seven points at 16-9 and did not allow the Tigers to get any closer than five points the rest of the way, claiming the 25-17 victory.

The fourth set was tightly contested from the get-go, with neither side leading by more than two points until a kill by Cox put the Rams ahead 12-9. A Gillcrist kill later made it 14-10 Rams, but the Tigers clawed their way back and pulled ahead at 17-16. It was a back-and-forth battle the rest of the way, with Gillcrist eventually ending the match on her fourth service ace of the night.

Inside the Box Score

  • Freshman Live Lunde Fossdal registered a match-high 16 kills for the Rams. She also added seven digs and two block assists.
  • Sophomore Jenna McGuire finished with 12 kills on 17 swings for a .588 hitting percentage.
  • Senior Marie Gillcrist served up a career-best four aces while also recording eight kills and five blocks.
  • Junior Lauren Pick recorded a career-high 44 assists to go along with six die, three blocks and a pair of service aces.
  • Junior Olivia Budinich finished with 13 digs while senior Jessie Blaze had 11.
  • Senior Kylee Wolfe nearly double-doubled, ending the match with nine kills and eight digs.
  • Senior Rachel Lynne Cox added eight kills for the Rams.

Stat of the Match
2 -
The win over Clemson is Rhode Island's second-ever victory over a school from the state of South Carolina, and the program's first since defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks 2-1 (15-6, 14-16, 15-5) back in 1982.

What's Next
Rhode Island closes out play at the Yale Invitational on Saturday, facing the host Bulldogs at 10 a.m., followed by a match against Delaware at 4:30 p.m.