The University of Rhode Island women’s volleyball team has its sights set on the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship, and Saturday was a step in the right direction as they toppled last year’s champion Duquesne at Keaney Gymnasium 3-2.

The Rams were fresh off another conference victory over La Salle, 3-0, on Friday and their win over Duquesne gave them a record of 12-5 overall with a 3-1 A-10 posting.

Down by one entering the fourth set, the Rams knew they needed a strong effort to keep the match alive.  After the score was level at 17, multiple ties ensued before Duquesne grabbed the 24-22 lead.  With match point in hand, the Rams rallied to claim the next two points to tie the set at 24, and then finished the rally by winning the next two points and forcing a decisive fifth set.

“The fifth set; there was never a doubt in our minds we were going to win” senior Cate Seman said. “We realized we could do it. We brought the team confidence and pushed through.”

With momentum on their side the Rams turned up the intensity.  The set was close with neither team gaining a lead of more than four points, but Rhode Island jumped out ahead late and took the match 15-11. Rhode Island was led by the play of Seman, who had 17 kills and three digs down the stretch to aid the comeback.

“We were excited, we ran a good warm-up and the girls were in good spirits all week long” Rhode Island head coach Bob Schneck said. “That is a great win. We haven’t beaten Duquesne in a long time”

The first set of the match began with the Rams jumping out in front to a quick 12-7 lead.  The Dukes then fought back with a run of their own, though, narrowing the Rams’ advantage to 13-12. Rhode Island was able to respond with solid play in front of the net, ultimately finishing the set on a 12-6 run and taking the first set 25-18. The Dukes responded strongly in the second set, nearly doubling up Rhode Island for a 25-13 win.

Despite the even play in the third set, Duquesne was able to take a 23-19 lead and looked to be on their way to victory, but the Rams fought back to tie it at 23.  The set would then see five more ties between the teams before the Rams ultimately lost the set, 30-28.

The Rams next travel to Fordham this Saturday as they look improve on their current three-game winning streak against the team with the worst record in the Atlantic 10.  Fordham is 1-17 overall, with their only victory coming in a three-set sweep of La Salle this Saturday to snap their 16-game losing streak to start the year.