Grizzlies take out Mountaineers, move to 2-0 in RMAC play
by Chris Day
ALAMOSA, Colo.— The Adams State College volleyball team hit an impressive .358 while overcoming a 1-game deficit to post a thrilling 29-31, 30-22, 30-26, 30-21 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference win over arch-rival Western State in front of a boisterous crowd of more than 600, Saturday night in Plachy Hall.
The win was the Grizzlies’ third straight and fourth in their last five and upped their record to 6-4 overall and to 2-0 in conference play, good for a first place tie with 2006 RMAC Champion Western New Mexico, in the West Division standings. The Mountaineers, who overcame a 27-22 deficit and a game-point in the opening set, fell to 4-6 and 1-1 in the RMAC.
The Grizzlies, who surpassed their 2006 win total in the process, had four players with 10 or more kills, led by sophomore outside hitter Andrea Tuck (Erie, Colo.). Tuck put down 24 while hitting .420. Reigning RMAC West Player of the Week Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.) recorded 17 more while digging up 15 Mountaineer attacks to register her fifth double-double of the season. True freshman setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) also turned in a stellar effort, the best of her young career, in the victory. The Paradise Valley High School graduate set new career-highs for assists (53) and kills (10) and was just a single dig shy of a triple-double. She also hit an incredible .526 on 19 attempts while turning in two service aces and orchestrating the potent Grizzly attack.
Freshman outside hitter Kimberly Ingram (Roswell, N.M.) also jumped into the double-figure fray as she recorded a career-high 15 kills and a .367 attack percentage. Fellow freshman Amanda Strauss (Espanola, N.M.) had a career and match-high 17 digs.
The Mountaineers also had four players with 10 or kills, a group led by Tynet Calhoun, who posted 13. Setter Amy Thompson also fared well turning in 38 assists, 10 kills, eight digs and a .429 attack percentage.
The Grizzlies controlled much of the crowd-pleasing and intense match but committed 18 service errors, which allowed WSC to stay in it.
The first game featured 11 ties and seven lead changes alone.
The Grizzlies broke a 19-19 tie to take a 27-22 lead on a McNeil service ace before a 6-0 Mountaineer run behind the serving of Erin Osleson put WSC in front 28-27.
After a Grizzly timeout, Osleson committed one of the Mountaineers’ seven service errors before ASC earned a game point on a Calhoun hitting error. However, Thompson put down a kill to tie the game at 29 before two Grizzly miscues gave WSC the early lead.
The Grizzlies quickly shook off the early disappointment using a 3-0 run, started with a Jennings kill to go up 21-18. The Mountaineers eventually pulled to within 24-22 on an ASC service error before a Jennings kill from McNeil started a 6-0 match-tying run, capped by a Strauss service ace.
The Grizzlies hit .410 in the second game before Jennings took over in the third, recording eight kills in that set alone. In the early going, the Grizzlies trailed by as many as four early but rallied back. Down just 21-20, Jennings put down the first of three kills in four points as the Grizzlies used a 4-1 run to go up 24-21. The last of those kills came after undoubtedly the best rally of the match when ASC had numerous incredible saves to keep the ball in play.
The Mountaineers would later get within one at 26-25 before a Gina Meyer-Smith (Blanding, Utah) kill, one of her nine on the night, allowed ASC to seize the momentum.
Hitting .486 in the third game, the Grizzlies wanted to close the match out and used a 5-0 run with Jennings at the service line to gain ultimate control. Leading 14-11 at that point, the Grizzlies never trailed the rest of the way using a 7-1 run, led by some tough McNeil serving, to close out what turned out to be most lopsided game of the match.
ASC turned in a season-high 78 kills throughout the night, committing just 20 attacking errors en-route to the .358 attack percentage, the team’s best in a RMAC match in nearly seven years (.362, Sept. 30, 2000 vs. Chadron State).
WSC had 53 kills but committed 24 hitting errors to finish with a .185 efficiency.
The Grizzlies also had a big 7-1 advantage in service aces and a 67-56 edge in digs. They were out-blocked 9-8.
The Grizzlies who have not started 2-0 in conference play since 2004, now go on the road next weekend to face Fort Lewis (5-5, 1-1 RMAC) and Mesa State (4-6, 0-2 RMAC) on Sept. 14 and 15, respectively.