Orediggers outlast Grizzlies in five
by Chris Day
ALAMOSA, Colo.— Colorado School of Mines freshman Ali Browder may have played the least of anybody but had the biggest impact at the time it counted as she registered her first two career service aces on the final two points of the match as the Orediggers outlasted the host Adams State College Grizzlies in a thrilling 5-game Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference volleyball match, Friday night in Plachy Hall. Browder, who had played in just one previous game all season, came in as a fifth-game serving specialist as the Orediggers overcame a 2-1 deficit to force the fifth set before winning the final three points of the match to take a 30-25, 28-30, 24-30, 30-22, 15-13 win over the Grizzlies, who are now 0-3 this season in full-length matches.
The Orediggers, who can thank freshman outside hitter Elizabeth Serra-Hsu for allowing Browder the chance to become the hero, won their second straight match and are now 6-14 overall. ASC, led by 17 Andrea Tuck (Erie, Colo.) kills and a 14-kill, 10-block double-double effort by Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.) dropped its fourth straight while falling to 7-11. Both teams are 3-7 in RMAC play.
The Orediggers raced to a 3-0 lead in the fifth game but watched the Grizzlies roar back to take a 12-10 lead thanks 6-2 run that featured two Tuck kills. After an Oredigger timeout, the Grizzlies committed the deadliest of their nine service errors before Nicole Leeper and Candice Magnusson teamed to record the Orediggers’ 16th block of the night to tie the game at 12.
Serra-Hsu, who finished with 24 kills, 18 digs, five blocks while hitting .339, then sailed her ensuing serve long giving the Grizzlies a 13-12 lead. However, Serra-Hsu redeemed herself and put down a kill on freshman setter Emily Collett’s 63rd assist to tie the game at 13 before Browder came into to serve.
The Gunnison native’s first serve went off the top of the net and down to the floor giving the Orediggers a match point. Browder then served a laser down the right sideline that went off of Grizzly libero Jessie Pickens (Cortez, Colo.) as the Orediggers took the match.
Serra-Hsu and Oredigger sophomore Kaity Edmiston were on fire in the early going as the pair combined for 11 Game 1 kills. Serra-Hsu, who hit .538 in the frame, had seven of those while Edmiston hit .571 while recording six of her eight blocks in the first game alone.
The Grizzlies were much more balanced and had six players record multiple kills in the set that eventually saw the Orediggers use an 8-3 run to build a 21-17 lead.
The Orediggers later went up 27-21 as Keesha Erickson highlighted a 4-0 run with a service ace before the teams traded points until ASC ran out of time.
The Grizzlies looked to be in serious trouble in the second game as they fell behind by a 17-9 count before storming back to take a 22-21 lead behind the serving of Ronica Stanley (Cortez, Colo.), who had both of her aces in the run. The Orediggers did not give up and took a 26-24 lead on a 5-2 run of their own before ASC tied the game at 27 on an Oredigger ball-handling error, one of eight on the night.
Serra-Hsu and ASC senior Brittany Muchmore (Peoria, Ariz.), who had 12 kills, then traded smashes before Jennings and Muchmore blocked Erickson giving the Grizzlies a point to tie the match.
They did just that as Jennings and freshman Kimberly Ingram (Roswell, N.M.) blocked Leeper to end Game 2, which included 12 ties and seven lead changes.
The third game was also close before a 6-1 Grizzly run triggered by a block and back-to-back Tuck kills, put ASC ahead 14-9.
The Orediggers came back to tie the game at 18 and again at 20 and 21 before a 3-0 run started by one of Ingram’s 13 kills put ASC in front for good.
The Grizzlies were nearly flawless in Game 3 recording 20 kills, five blocks and a .312 hitting percentage while holding the Orediggers to a .087 efficiency.
However, the Orediggers would not go a way and raced to a 10-4 Game 4 lead thanks to the serving of libero Kirstie Bunting and Collett. The Grizzlies never fully recovered and trailed by as many as 10 after back-to-back Erickson aces. They did close to within four at 22-18 and 23-19 before another 4-0 run, started by a service error and finished with a block, paved the road to the decisive fifth game.
Both teams had four players with 10 or more kills on the night. Erickson, who had 16, Leeper who put down 14, and Edmiston, who had 11, joined Serra-Hsu in that category for the Orediggers, who had a slight 71-66 advantage on the night. Serra-Hsu also led the Orediggers in digs but was followed closely by Bunting and Celeste Cashel who had 17 and 15, respectively.
Pickens, who had 16, led five Grizzlies in double-figures.
Tuck and freshman setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) joined Jennings in recording-double doubles. Tuck had a career-high 14 to record her first career double-double while McNeil chipped in another 14 while doling out 47 assists to record her sixth of the season. Both had three blocks.
Gina Meyer-Smith (Blanding, Utah), playing in a new back-row position this week, had a season-high 12 while Stanley recorded a season-best 10.
Jennings who has recorded 10 or more blocks in three of ASC’s last three five matches, also hit a solid .429 on 28 swings. Like McNeil, she has six double-doubles this year and ranks second in the RMAC behind only 2006 RMAC Player of the Year Nicole Schwab of Fort Lewis with her 1.24-block per game average.
The Grizzlies have now lost 5-game home matches against the Orediggers in each of the last two years and have dropped seven of their last eight falling a match behind Colorado State-Pueblo (6-12, 4-6), who they defeated on Sept. 5, for the eighth and final RMAC Tournament spot.
ASC hosts struggling Colorado Christian (1-18, 0-10 RMAC) on Saturday at 6 p.m. before departing on a 4-match road-trip starting next Thursday at Chadron State. The Cougars were swept for the fifth time in six matches in Pueblo on Friday night.