Rams’ record moves to 3-6 after successful weekend across state lines

The University of Rhode Island’s women’s volleyball team was in action this past weekend at the Central Connecticut State University Invitational in New Britain, Connecticut. The Rams were set for three matchups over the weekend with the first coming on Friday, Sept. 13 followed by two matchups on Saturday. 

The Rams entered the tournament on Friday against Bucknell University with a record of one win and five losses. Bucknell won the match by taking all three sets 25-23, 25-16 and 25-17 dropping the Rams to a record of 1-6. Despite the loss the Rams saw some strong individual performances.

The offense was led by redshirt junior Natale Zanellato who had nine kills, followed by sophomore Gabrielle Shilling who racked up seven kills. Junior Annie Ell chipped in twenty-seven assists and seven digs, and sophomore Ella Ratzloff led the team in digs with twelve. Senior Hazel Brown also added three of the Rams four service aces but it wasn’t enough to get the job done in this matchup.

The Rams looked to rebound on Saturday when they faced off against Saint Peter’s University at 1:30 p.m. in the first of two matchups for them on the day. The Rams were able to break a five game losing streak with a win in this matchup as they dominated the Peacocks throughout all three sets. Rhody took all three sets, 25-20, 25-18, 25-17 and improved their record to 2-6 on the year. The Rams controlled the entire game as they had the advantage 87-64 in digs, 51-20 in assists, 8-5 in service aces and they also converted 71 percent of their sideout chances.

The Rams once again saw more strong individual performances in this matchup. Junior Claire Chaplinsky led the team with sixteen kills while sophomore Mariah Paulette led in blocks with two. Shilling and Brown were once again among the statistical leaders with nineteen digs and six service aces respectively. The Rams also led in all team statistical categories as well in this matchup. 

“I do think the team was out to prove they can play at a level better than they did the night before,” said Head Coach Steve Santonastaso

The Rams day was not over after this one as they had a 6:30 p.m. match with the host school, Central Connecticut State University. Their success from the first matchup of the day continued into this one as the Rams defeated the Blue Devils in three out of four sets to win the match 3-1 and improve their overall record to 3-6 on the year. The Rams took the first two sets 25-21 and 25-14 before dropping the third set 25-16 and then eventually taking the final set 25-23.

Rhody once again saw strong performances from Brown who led in service aces with four and was tied for the team lead with Zanellato in kills with sixteen. Brown also shared the lead in blocks with Shilling as they both had two and Ratzloff lead the team in digs with thirty. The Rams also held the edge in hitting percentage, digs and aces over the Blue Devils.

Zanellato averaged a team best four kills per set and along with Shilling was named to the CCSU Invitational All-Tournament Team. 

“They stood out with the leadership they provided” said Santonastaso. “Natale had a really nice night offensively and Gabrielle was very steady with her play.” 

Brown’s six aces against the Blue Devils tied former Rams Marie Gillcrist and Kenny Gardner and current teammate Annie Ell for the third most in a single match. 

The Rams return home next weekend to host the Art Carmichael Invitational. They will face off against Albany and Boston College on Friday, Sept. 27 and then they will go head to head with Bryant University on Saturday, Sept. 28.