Grizzlies dominate in 3-game sweep of NMHU
ASC now in sole possesion of final RMAC Tourney spot
LAS VEGAS, N.M.— Sophomore outside hitter Andrea Tuck (Erie, Colo.) put down an impressive 17 kills while the Adams State College defense was strong at the net and on the floor in a dominant 3-game sweep of New Mexico Highlands University, Friday night in the Cowgirls’ Wilson Complex.
The 30-25, 30-18, 30-18 victory allowed the Grizzlies to improve to 10-12 overall and much more importantly to 6-8 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play. ASC is now a full match ahead of Colorado Mines and Chadron State, both 5-9 in league play, for the eighth and final RMAC Tournament qualification spot. Western State and Colorado State-Pueblo are one match further back at 4-10 while Mesa State and Regis are just a match ahead of the Grizzlies at 7-7.
NMHU fell to 3-20 overall and 1-13 in RMAC action with their 12th straight loss.
The Grizzlies hit .231 as a team and had five different players with six or more kills. They also out-blocked the Cowgirls 11-5 and held them to a meager .025 hitting percentage.
Sophomores Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.) and Gina Meyer-Smith (Blanding, Utah) had five blocks each to lead the effort at the net while freshman Amanda Strauss (Espanola, N.M.), playing libero for the first time in her collegiate career, and junior Jessie Pickens (Cortez, Colo.) combined for 29 digs to lead ASC to a 51-42 advantage in pick-ups. Strauss, who had been out for nearly six weeks, had 16 of those while Pickens chipped in 13.
NMHU received a team-high 13 kills from Ashley Murray, who was held to a .054 hitting percentage on 37 attempts. Livina Gallegos had 17 digs to lead the Cowgirl defense.
The Grizzlies never trailed in the first game taking an early 5-2 lead. That lead grew to 15-9 before the Cowgirls took a timeout. They then went on a 5-0 run to close to within one (15-14) before a Tuck kill after an ASC timeout triggered a 4-1 run that put the Grizzlies up 19-16.
The Cowgirls did not give up and tied the set at 25 before another Tuck kill, one of six in the set, started ASC’s decisive 5-0 run.
Freshman setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.), who finished the night with 31 assists, six kills and four blocks, was especially impressive as she put down four kills in the first game.
She then turned to her attention to helping her teammates as the Grizzlies hit .263 and .286 in the second and third sets, respectively. Meanwhile, the Grizzly defense was solid all night holding the Cowgirls to a negative -.022 effort in the first game before allowing just .054 and .051 efforts in 30-18 second and third game victories.
The Cowgirls did get out to a 12-6 lead in the second game but allowed a dominant ASC 17-1 run triggered by one of Kimberly Ingram’s (Roswell, N.M.) kills. Pickens served 13 straight points in that rally and recorded one of her match-high three service aces.
Leading 23-13 at the time and 24-18 minutes later, Meyer-Smith registered back-to-back kills to thwart a mini-Cowgirl comeback as Brittany Muchmore (Peoria, Ariz.) put down a kill before teaming with Meyer-Smith on consecutive blocks to put the game away.
Muchmore, who had seven kills on a .333 hitting effort then continued the Grizzly momentum after the intermission as she back-to-back kills as the Grizzlies went ahead 10-3 in the third set.
NMHU never got closer than six the rest of the way as the Grizzlies won for the third time in four matches.
The Grizzlies now travel south to Silver City to face Western New Mexico (15-7, 11-3 RMAC) on Saturday at 7 p.m. That is the last of four straight matches on the road for ASC, which will then play three straight in front of a home Plachy Hall crowd starting next Friday (Oct. 26) against Mesa State.