Grizzlies take game off No. 22 Lopers for first time since 2003
by Chris Day
KEARNEY, Neb.ó Led by 13 kills and five blocks from sophomore Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.), the Adams State College volleyball team took a game off perennial-powerful Nebraska-Kearney for the first time since winning a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference West Division Championship in 2003. However, the Lopers, ranked 22nd in the nation and fourth in the Southwest Region used a superb 22-kill effort from sophomore middle hitter Nikki Scott to post a 30-21, 30-14, 24-30, 30-15 win over the visiting Grizzlies, Friday night before a crowd of 939 at UNKís Health & Sports Center.
The Grizzlies who also received 10 kills each from sophomore Andrea Tuck (Erie, Colo.) and freshman Kimberly Ingram (Roswell, N.M.), both outside hitters, fell to 9-12 overall and 5-8 in RMAC play. The Lopers won their fourth straight match and their 23rd straight in front of a home crowd while improving to 19-4 overall and 10-2 in RMAC play.
Jennings hit .310 on the night and recorded four of ASCís 14 kills in the third game that saw the Grizzlies hit .213 compared to UNKís .120.
ASC fell behind 7-3 in that game but came roaring back to take an 18-13 lead. Scott, who finished with a career-high for kills, then started a 4-0 Loper run with one of hers before ASC re-built a sizeable 24-19 lead en-route to the victory that extended the match.
However, the Lopers quickly built a 9-4 Game 4 edge while hitting .302 throughout the set. They also recorded five of their 14 blocks in the game, fittingly ended by a Scott kill.
Scott hit .487 on 39 swings throughout the set as the Lopers hit .267 as a team behind the setting of freshman Cola Svec, the RMACís assist leader. She finished with 49 assists and 15 digs to record the matchís only double-double.
Loper libero Kelli Wemhoff had a match-high 24 digs while Lauren Nordhues finished with 22 as the Lopers had a big 89-62 edge in that category.
ASCís leader Jessie Pickens (Cortez, Colo.) did her best and recorded a team-high 17 following a strong 19-dig effort in a 3-game road sweep of Chadron State on Thursday.
Freshman setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) also performed well recording 35 assists, seven kills and nine digs.
The Grizzlies shocked the large crowd in the early going taking an 11-8 lead before a Jeri Walkowiak block, one of a match-high eight, started a 5-0 UNK run that put the Lopers up for good in Game 1.
Walkowiak, a freshman middle, finished the night with 12 kills and a .375 hitting percentage while Loper sophomore outside hitter Erica Burson put down 11 kills while hitting .346.
The Lopers hit .265 in the first set but were even more impressive in the second hitting .483 as they took a 9-1 one lead on four straight hitting errors and a Scott kill. Scott, who had 15 kills before the intermission, then put down four in another 5-1 Loper run as hosts went into the intermission with a 2-0 lead.
However, ASC used a Jennings kill, a Ronica Stanley (Cortez, Colo.) service ace and a Tuck block to start the Game 3 comeback that was completed by back-to-back Ingram kills that gave the Grizzlies a 13-11 lead.
The Grizzlies then went up 16-12 on a Jennings block of Shannon Clausen, who finished with nine kills, before watching an 18-13 lead shrink to just one. An Ingram kill and Loper hitting error put then put the edge back to three (20-17).
The Lopers came out of a Grizzly timeout with an Alison Glidden kill but got no closer than two before Ingram and McNeil kills started a 5-1 game-ending run completed with a Brittany Muchmore (Peoria, Ariz.) service ace.
The Lopers then hit .302 in Game 4 while the Grizzlies were held to a .041 effort.
The Lopers dominated the serving game recorded 13 aces, four of which came from Clausen. ASC was held to just three but did commit just three service errors.
The Grizzlies, who have never defeated the Lopers in 20 all-time tries, had lost 17 straight games dating back to a 30-24 victory in the first game of an Oct. 3 match in Alamosa, Colo. The Lopers were ranked 13th in the country at the time and have played in each of the last eight NCAA Division II National Tournaments. They advanced to the National Championship Match in 2005, which they hosted.