TOLEDO, Ohio – The Marist volleyball team split a pair of matches at the Toledo Invitational on Friday on the first day of the 2013 season. The Red Foxes defeated the host Rockets 3-1 (18-25, 25-14, 25-22, 25-21) before falling to Eastern Illinois (EIU) 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-22).

Marist 3 – Toledo 1…

Mackenzie Stephens (Holland, Mich.) finished with a match-high 16 kills, leading three Red Foxes with at least 10 kills. She also added with three block assists and a .444 hitting percentage. Grace Hill (Kalamazoo, Mich.), playing in her first match since tearing her ACL last fall, finished with 13 kills and Courtney Shaw (Centennial, Co.) also had 12 kills to go along with four blocks. Audra Brady had 40 assists, playing the final three sets. Freshman Amanda Schlegel (Austin, Texas) started the match and had eight assists in the first set. Brooke Zywick (Garden City, Mich.) had a match-high 22 digs. Freshman Lexi Millington (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) had four service aces in her first career match and Brady also added two. As a team, Marist outhit Toledo .276 to .171 and had 12 more assists (53-41) and eight more digs (51-43).

The Red Foxes (1-0) started out slow, hitting at just a .088 clip in the first set. They were led by three kills from Marisa Gilbert (Pflugerville, Texas). Toledo (0-1) used three runs of at least three straight points to pull out the 25-18 set win.

The offense picked up in the second set, recording a hitting percentage of .429 and receiving four kills apiece from Stephens and Hill. Shaw, Gilbert and Becca Jones (Arlington, Va,) each added two kills and Shaw and Gilbert both had two blocking assists. Zywick had seven digs in the set. The Red Foxes never trailed in the set and used three separate runs of their own of at least three consecutive points to pull away for the 25-14 win.

The third set was back-and-forth the entire way. Toledo used four straight points to take an 11-8 lead, but Marist immediately scored five of the next seven to bring the set back to 13-13. Trailing, 20-18, the Red Foxes went on a 6-1 run to bring it to set point before a kill by Stephens finished off the set. Shaw had five kills in the set to lead Marist while Hill added four.

The fourth set started out with the Red Foxes jumping out to early leads of 6-0 and 10-2. Toledo however fought back to take a 17-16 lead before Marist regained control with three consecutive points. With the score 22-21 in the Red Foxes’ favor, a kill by Stephens, service ace by Millington and a combined block by Jones and Stephens finished off the set and the match. Stephens had seven kills in the deciding set while Shaw, Jones and Hill each contributed three.

Eastern Illinois 3 – Marist 0…

Jones led the Red Foxes with nine kills and added seven digs. Stephens and Hill each had eight kills and Shaw contributed seven. Brady had 30 assists, while Gena Russo (Rensselaer, N.Y.) led the defense with 10 digs and Zywick added nine.

Marist held a 9-8 lead early in the first set on the back of kills by four different players and a Zywick service ace. EIU came back, however, with four consecutive points to take a 12-9 lead, which they did not relinquish. The Red Foxes could not get any closer than within two points the rest of the set.

In the second set, Marist jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a service ace by Gilbert and kill by Jones. However, EIU scored five straight to take a 5-2 lead. Led by four kills from Hill, the Red Foxes fought back to tie the score at 12-12. The score remained knotted for several points until 21-21 before EIU scored four of the final five points to win the set.

EIU used three separate 4-0 runs in the third set to open up the score and sweep the match.

The Red Foxes will finish its opening weekend against Loyola University Chicago at noon on Saturday.

Become a fan of Marist Athletics on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.