Grizzlies battle #6 Golden Bears, drill Merrimack to finish weekend 2-2
by Chris Day
GOLDEN, Colo.ó For the second straight day, the Adams State College Grizzly volleyball team bounced-back from a close loss to an undefeated team to post a dominating win as they finished a 4-match weekend at the Days Inn-Denver West Oredigger Classic with a 2-2 record.
The Grizzlies, now 4-4 on the season, dropped a 30-27, 30-26, 30-18 decision to Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.) University, ranked sixth in the CSTV/American Volleyball Coaches Association NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll at the time, on Saturday afternoon before drilling the Merrimack (Mass.) College Warriors 30-17, 30-25, 30-19 on Saturday evening in a match that lasted just 66 minutes in the Colorado School of Minesí Lockridge Arena.
The Grizzlies, who are just one win away from matching their 2006 win total, had dropped a 4-game match to then undefeated Ferris State (Mich.) on Friday before defeating Missouri-Rolla later in the afternoon.
The CSPU Golden Bears came into Saturdayís match with a 6-0 record and left the tournament with an 8-0 mark after defeating Mesa State later Saturday. That allowed the 2006 North Central Regional Finalists to move up to the third spot in the new CSTV/AVCA poll that was released Monday.
No less than four voting coaches think they are the best team in the nation.
All of that did not intimidate the Grizzlies at least in the early going as the first and second games were tied a combined 16 times before the Sadie Kessler and Emily Palkert led Golden Bears pulled out the tight sets with late runs.
The Grizzlies actually led the first game by as many as five at 24-19 before the Golden Bears pulled it out with a game-ending 7-0 run behind the serving of setter Maggie McNamara, who had three of her match-high five service aces in the run.
The Grizzlies also held a 20-17 lead in the second game before a 9-2 spurt put the Golden Bears up 26-22 en-route to the win.
After an initial even start to the third game, the Golden Bears started seizing control gradually building a 7-point (19-12) lead before finishing the match off with two Whitney Meierotto service aces. Even the semi-lopsided third game was tied on four separate occasions. Each of the three sets including two lead changes.
Kessler had a match-high 16 kills and hit .565 throughout while Palkert turned in 13 kills and a .346 hitting percentage. Meierotto, who was the reigning AVCA National Player of the Week, had 11 kills but committed 13 attacking errors. McNamara had 45 assists.
ASC sophomore Andrea Tuck (Erie, Colo.) turned in a respectable 13 kills to lead the Grizzly attack. Freshman Amanda Strauss (Espanola, N.M.) had 10 digs and seven blocks, both team-highs. Sophomore Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.) also fared well turning in seven kills and five blocks helping the Grizzlies to a 9-6 edge at the net.
Any of ASCís frustrations that built up during the afternoon match were quickly wiped out against Merrimack, which fell to 0-4 on the year, after the Grizzly victory.
Jennings registered 13 kills and 13 digs, good for her fourth double-double of the season. She also had four blocks while hitting. 478. Tuck and freshman Kimberly Ingram (Roswell, N.M.), who hit. 417, added 12 kills each.
Freshman setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) turned in 42 assists while orchestrating a Grizzly attack that hit .339, ASCís best single-match percentage in more than a year. Junior libero Jessie Pickens (Cortez, Colo.) led the defensive charge with 16 digs.
The Grizzlies hit .357 in the first game as they jumped out to 6-0 and 10-2 leads. They never trailed in that set and only had limited troubles in the second as they overcame a slight 19-18 deficit using a 4-0 run with Strauss at the serves line to seize control.
The Grizzlies then dominated the third game, which saw them hit .472. The Grizzlies took a 7-2 lead in that game and never led by fewer than three points the rest of the way.
ASC had a 7-1 blocking edge and held the Warriors, led by nine Ale Kuncaitis kills, to a .111 attack percentage.