Winona overcomes Grizzlies in thrilling nightcap
by Chris Day
ALAMOSA, Colo.— The Winona State (Minn.) University Warriors overcame a 2-set deficit and two double-doubles while using a balanced attack of four strong hitters to post a 5-game (26-30, 26-30, 30-28, 30-26, 15-13) victory over the host Adams State College Grizzlies in the final match of Friday’s portion of the Best Western Alamosa Inn/Grizzly Inn Volleyball Classic, that concludes Saturday in Plachy Hall. The Warriors had four players with 11 or more kills and join nationally-ranked Rockhurst (Mo.) University as the only two undefeated teams in the tournament thus far.
The Grizzlies, who had a chance to go 2-0 for the first time since joining the NCAA Division II ranks in 1992, jumped out to an early 2-set lead but squandered that and double-double efforts from freshman setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) and sophomore Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.) falling to 1-1 after posting a 3-game win over Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University on Thursday night. The Grizzlies also could not capitalize on fine efforts from outside hitters Andrea Tuck (Erie, Colo.) and Brittany Muchmore (Peoria, Ariz.), who combined for 43 kills on Friday, a night after teaming to post 30.
Tuck, who redshirted last year, had 27 of those kills and hit a solid .316. Muchmore added 16 more to match a career-high. McNeil, playing in just her second career match, had 58 assists and 13 digs while Jennings had 13 kills and as many digs while hitting .370.
However, the Warriors countered with 15-kill efforts from middle blockers Kim Nemcek and Jenna Padley, who also had a match-high seven blocks. Coach Connie Mettille’s squad also received 14 kills and 13 digs from Carmon Stankowski and another 11 kills from Kiersten Arendt. Setter Susan Clausen, who like McNeil is a freshman, had 50 assists in the match that featured 25 ties and 10 lead changes in over two hours of play.
The Grizzlies out-hit the Warriors .212 to .159 on the night but could not close them out in the third or fourth set, which were even more nip-and-tuck then ASC’s 30-26 first and second set victories.
The Warriors then continued their momentum in the deciding fifth set as a 6-1 run that featured two Nemcek kills and three Grizzly miscues put WSU in control.
The Warriors later pulled ahead by a 14-9 margin before the Grizzlies valiantly fought four of five match points before a Jennings serve sailed just long to end the match.
That was one of 14 Grizzly service errors on the night, three of which came in the fifth set. WSU only committed seven and also had slight 7-6 and 11-9 edges in service aces and blocks, respectively.
The Warriors also had a slight 70-66 edge in digs, led by freshman libero Rudi Balich, who had 17. Crystal Otte also added 16 off the bench. ASC junior libero Jessie Pickens (Cortez, Colo.) recorded a match-high 18.
The match was the last of six on the day, which saw Rockhurst, ranked 22nd in the CSTV/American Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Poll, defeat Western New Mexico in three games before overcoming a first-game lapse to post a 4-game win over Dixie State (Utah), who ASC will play at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The Grizzlies will then face Rockhurst in the nightcap at 8 p.m.
Western New Mexico, Texas-Permian Basin split matches on Friday while Dixie State dropped both of theirs. Grand Canyon is also 0-2 thus far after suffering a 4-game setback to Winona State earlier in the day.
Seven matches are on the docket for Saturday, starting at 8 a.m.