ASC volleyball readies for final regular season home games
by David Mejia
ALAMOSA, Colo. – Good coaches don’t care whether it’s practice, preseason, the start of conference play or the end of the season. Getting the team to play to the best of its ability is paramount. The demands of playing aggressive, smart and team volleyball haven’t changed for Adams State volleyball coach Lindy Mortensen.
Mortensen expects her team to finish the season on a high note this weekend, while laying the foundation for next season in the process. Sure, the season hasn’t gone according to plan, but the Grizzlies have fought hard in every match and will continue to do so until the final whistle blows.
The Grizzlies will conclude the regular season as it hosts a pair of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contests on Friday and Saturday. The Grizzlies will host New Mexico Highlands and Western New Mexico, respectively.
“It’s not only a pride thing, but we want to use these two matches as a building block as we go into our spring season and off season,” Mortensen said. “I think we’re still preparing for our future.”
As usual, coach Mortensen is looking for her team to get out of the gates quickly. The Grizzlies are looking to build some early momentum and carry it through each game.
“Volleyball’s such a momentum game, so it’s important to get off to a good start,” the coach said. “It’s always our goal. We’ve talked about earning runs and cutting down on our errors. That’s our key too.”
The Grizzlies have had their share of injuries this season, which has undoubtedly forced Mortensen to find new combinations on the fly. Janie Elkins (Berthoud, Colo.), who has been sidelined for five weeks, has practiced in the back row this week, but her return is still questionable - at least for playing in the front row. The Grizzlies are also without libero Ronica Stanley (Cortez, Colo.) who suffered a separated right thumb against Fort Lewis on Saturday and is out for the remainder of the season.
Nevertheless, the Grizzlies will fight on and enter this weekend having beaten New Mexico Highlands in five games in Las Vegas, N.M. on Sept. 16. ASC had taken West Division-leading Western New Mexico (23-5, 14-3) to five games before dropping the match in Silver City N.M. one night prior.
“(Highlands) is a good team,” Mortensen said. “They’re kind of like us in that they are very athletic and they play hard. The last five or six years Western New Mexico has played very good volleyball. We went five with them on their court, so we’ll have to play well.”
Beyond this weekend, Adams State loses only one player in Tiffany Stockebrand (Alamosa, Colo.), who has 270 kills in 102 games this season. The senior has accumulated 695 kills, 353 digs, 95 blocks and 803.5 points in two seasons at Adams State. Stockebrand and Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.) are the only two Grizzlies to play in every game this season.
“Tiffany Stockebrand has really gotten her hitting percentage where we need it to be,” Mortensen said. “She’s been a real strong and consistent hitter in the last four or five matches.”
Mortensen is pleased with the team’s progress, but obviously would like to conclude the season with a pair of victories. Still, the expectations for several younger players remains.
“Gina Meyer (Blanding, Utah) has done a great job and she’s played well all year,” the coach said. “Darcy Jennings was moved back from the outside to the middle (blocker) and she’s been real steady. Jessie Pickens (Cortez, Colo.) has a lot of fight and we put her at outside hitter this weekend to try something different and to have a quicker combination on the court and all around. Jessie helps with serve receive and digging. She’s small, but she hits smart and her hitting percentage is very respectable.”
It is Senior Night and Parent’s Night for the volleyball team on Friday at Plachy Hall. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on Friday against Highlands and at 2 p.m. on Saturday against Western New Mexico. Friday's match can also be heard on KPSK, 103.5 FM in Alamosa or online at www.kspk.com.