Grizzlies spike their way back to .500 with 3-game domination of NMHU
by Chris Day
ALAMOSA, Colo.— Sophomore outside hitter Andrea Tuck (Erie, Colo.) put down a match-high 14 kills on an impressive .565 hitting effort while sophomore middle blocker Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.) blocked a career-high 11 New Mexico Highlands University Cowgirl attacks as the Adams State College Grizzlies spiked the visiting Cowgirls in three games to get back to .500 on the season.
The Grizzlies, now an even 7-7 overall and 3-3 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference action, hit an impressive .386 in the 30-14, 30-25, 30-24 win over NMHU, which has now lost nine of its last ten dropping to 3-12 overall and to 1-5 in RMAC play.
The Grizzlies, who dropped below .500 with a Friday night loss to RMAC-leading Western New Mexico, recorded 14 blocks and nine service aces in the match that took just 1 hour and 12 minutes. ASC never trailed in the first or third games and hit .444 and .448 in those sets en-route to their best attack percentage in an RMAC match in at least a decade.
“We really played a lot better as a team,” Jennings said. Our defense was ten times better than it was last night and our net game was a lot better as well.”
I don’t know how I got 11 blocks. We just played better as a team,” a shy Jennings continued.
Freshman setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) orchestrated the effort as she recorded 39 assists. She also tallied five blocks, seven digs and four kills on a .375 attack percentage. An impressive six different Grizzlies hit at a .350 or better efficiency. Jennings was one of those as she tallied seven kills while hitting .400 on 15 attempts. She also recorded eight digs.
NMHU was led by Tiffany Neeley’s eight kills of the bench. She hit .357 for the Cowgirls, who managed just a .111 efficiency as a team. Junior libero Livina Gallegos did record a match-high 13 digs, one of the bright spots for NMHU.
Led by Jennings’ five, the Grizzlies blocked seven Cowgirl attacks in the first game alone as the ASC defense held NMHU to a negative .103 hitting effort in the set. ASC used a 10-3 run to break open a 4-3 game. McNeil and Jennings teamed for back-to-back blocks in that spurt forcing a Cowgirl timeout that was followed by one of Kimberly Ingram’s (Roswell, N.M.) six kills.
The Grizzlies then had three service errors, spoiling an otherwise perfect game.
The Grizzlies responded from the last of those service errors using another 3-0 run to go up 22-9 before cruising to the victory that was completed with a Tuck kill.
The Cowgirls battled in the early stages of the second game but allowed a 6-1 run that put the Grizzlies up 13-7. ASC, which received five Tuck kills and four Jennings blocks in the set, gradually built a lead of as much as nine before a 4-1 Cowgirl spurt behind the serving of Doreen Zamora, who started the spurt with one of her seven kills, pulled NMHU within 26-21.
However, Tuck and Brittany Muchmore (Peoria, Ariz.), who had eight kills, responded with smashes around a McNeil service error as ASC put eventually put the game away.
In the third set, freshman middle blocker Sarah Dirmeyer (Albuquerque, N.M.) recorded one of her three service aces in a 7-0 Grizzly run that broke an early 6-6 tie.
Leading 13-6, the Grizzlies watched NMHU claw within four (16-12) before another 5-2 run capped by back-to-back Dirmeyer aces started the end-game.
Trailing 21-14, the Cowgirls did get back within three (26-23), thanks to a 5-2 run before Ingram put down a kill. Jennings then followed up with two assisted blocks before ending the 30-24 game and the match with a kill off the block after a Rachelle Mason kill for NMHU.
ASC now goes on the road to face RMAC East Division co-leading UC-Colorado Springs on Friday night.