Grizzlies sweep region's third-ranked Mustangs, 3-0
SILVER CITY, N.M.ó The Adams State College womenís volleyball team shocked Western New Mexico University with another strong defensive effort while taking a large step towards a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament berth as the Grizzlies swept the Mustangs, ranked third in the latest NCAA Division II Southwest Regional Rankings, on their own floor, Saturday night at Dragís Court.
The 30-25, 30-27, 30-23 win was ASCís fourth sweep in the last five matches and moved coach Lindy Mortensenís Grizzlies to 11-12 overall and 7-8 in RMAC play. It was also ASC's first road win here in the team's Division II (1992-Present) era.
The Mustangs, who had not been swept at home since re-joining the RMAC, fell to 15-8 and 11-4 in conference play.
With just two weeks and four matches in the regular season ASC is now a full match ahead of Chadron State, which defeated Colorado Mines in four games, for the final RMAC Tournament Spot. The Grizzlies, just one match behind Mesa State and Regis, also hold the tiebreaker on the Eagles, 6-9 in RMAC play, thanks to a 3-game victory on Oct. 10 in Chadron, Neb.
On Saturday, the Grizzlies held the Mustangs to a .107 hitting effort throughout. The Mustangs committed 30 attacking errors, 10 forced by Grizzly blocks and watched the Grizzlies, led by a tough front-line attack of Andrea Tuck (Erie, Colo.), Brittany Muchmore (Peoria, Ariz.) and Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.) hit .246.
Tuck finished with a co-team-high 12 kills while helping out with 10 digs to record her second double-double of the year. She also had a hand in four of ASCís blocks and recorded a team-high three service aces, half of ASCís team total of six.
Muchmore was quite efficient recording 12 kills on just 21 swings while hitting .524. Jennings recorded eight kills while hitting .353. She was also dominant at the net recording five blocks. Gina Meyer-Smith (Blanding, Utah) also had five blocks while freshman Amanda Strauss (Espanola, N.M.), making her second straight start at the libero spot, had a career and match-high 22 digs.
Jessie Pickens (Cortez, Colo.) now in a defensive specialist role had another 15 while Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) doled out 39 assists while adding in three blocks and two service aces.
The Mustangs were not void of stars either as Alzie Auelua had 19 kills, 17 digs and four of WNMUís five service aces. Natali Murdock added another 14 kills while hitting a team-best .244. Auelua has been a Grizzly killer this season as she had 16 kills and 13 digs while hitting .353 in WNMUís 3-game sweep of the Grizzlies earlier this season in Alamosa, Colo.
However, the Grizzlies jumped out to substantial early leads in each of the three sets while closing out the first two on Muchmore kills.
ASC got out to a 10-3 lead in the first game and did not trail the rest of the way. The Mustangs did claw to within two on eight separate occasions and got within one at 24-23 before a Jennings kill and Meyer-Smith/Tuck block started a 6-2 set-ending run.
The second game was the closest of them all.
However, the Grizzlies still took the early edge going up 9-6, 12-7 and 17-12 before a 3-1 run after a Mustang timeout brought the home team with three at 18-15. The Mustangs later got to within 21-19 on a Murdock kill before ASC took five of the next eight points to build some breathing room.
Down 26-22, the Mustangs got within two twice more before service and hitting errors allowed ASC to take three of the final five points and comfortable 2-game lead into the intermission.
Looking to close out the sweep, the Grizzlies got out to a big 10-4 lead in Game 3 and led by as many as 10 before a 4-1 Mustang run cut ASC's lead to 18-13.
However, the momentum would be short lived as a Muchmore kill at 25-22 started ASCís match-ending 5-1 spurt in which the Mustangs misfired four times.
The Grizzlies, who have not advanced to the RMAC Tournament since winning a RMAC West Division title in 2003, now return home for three straight matches starting Friday at 7 p.m. against Mesa State.
ASC also hosts West Division-leading Fort Lewis at 2 p.m. Saturday and Colorado State-Pueblo at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30 before finishing the regular season at Western State on Nov. 2.