Grizzly RMAC Tournament run ended by Mountain Lions
Tuck records second straight 26-kill, 11-dig effort
KEARNEY, Neb.— Volleyball is a momentum game.
Adams State College volleyball coach Lindy Mortensen has always thought that.
Her thoughts were confirmed Saturday as the third-seeded University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Mountain Lions rallied from five points down late in the third game to win it 30-28. They then won the fourth game by the same score as the Mountain Lions closed out a 4-game (30-23, 24-30, 30-28, 30-28) win over the seventh-seeded Grizzlies, who had won the second game to seize momentum, in the semifinals of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament, Saturday evening in the University of Nebraska-Kearney’s Health & Sports Center.
The Mountain Lions reached the 20-win mark for the first time since 1991 and now play the winner of the other semifinal between the host Lopers and Western New Mexico in Sunday’s championship match.
The Grizzlies season, highlighted by Friday’s quarterfinal win over second seeded Fort Lewis, was likely ended with the loss that dropped their record to 15-14.
The Grizzlies did not go down without a fight. After dropping the first game 30-23, ASC got out to a 15-7 lead in Game 2 thanks to a 6-0 run.
Sophomore outside hitter Andrea Tuck (Erie, Colo.) had eight of her match-high 26 kills in that set as the Grizzlies hit .265 to even the match at a game a piece.
The third game was a little closer but still in the favor of the Grizzlies, who went on a 6-2 run to build a 22-17 Game 3 lead.
The Grizzly attack, which hit .200 throughout, then collapsed as three hitting errors and two Mountain Lion blocks allowed UCCS to tie the game at 22.
ASC senior Brittany Muchmore (Peoria, Ariz.) stopped the bleeding with a kill that put the Grizzlies up 23-22 before two more hitting errors and a Stephanie Laband kill put the Mountain Lions up for good 25-23.
The Grizzlies tried to recover and pulled within a single point five more times in the game before Lauren Orth finally finished it off.
The fourth game was also close and featured seven ties. However, UCCS used a 3-1 run to gain a 12-9 lead. The Grizzlies kept battling and never trailed by more than four before a 5-1 run triggered by a Kimberly Ingram (Roswell, N.M.) kill and Jessie Pickens (Cortez, Colo.) service ace brought ASC within 29-28.
However, Orth answered with a kill to end the match.
Tuck, who also had 26 kills in the quarterfinal victory, finished the night with 11 digs, good for her second straight and sixth double-double of the season. She also hit .328 and became the second ever ASC player to reach the 500-kill mark in a single-season. She now has 503.
Ingram, a freshman outside hitter, finished with 16 kills while sophomore Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.) had 11 to go along with her match-high six blocks.
Freshman setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) had 57 assists while freshman Amanda Strauss (Espanola, N.M.) had a career-high matching 22 digs.
Laband, who had 14 digs, had 19 kills to lead four Mountain Lions in double figures. Brooke Akers had 15 while Heidi Fehringer and Diane Sheldon added 13 and 10, respectively.
Andrea Weedman had eight kills and a match-high 25 digs while libero Laura Meeter chipped in another 23.
Setters Jessica Stewart, who had 36, and Cortney Weedman, who doled out 32, combined for 68 assists in the Mountain Lions’ 6-2 attack.
The Mountain Lions, ranked fourth in the NCAA Southwest Regional Rankings coming into the tournament, will almost certainly be invited to the National Tournament even if they lose in the championship match on Sunday. The Grizzlies, who were unranked, have only the slightest of chances of being selected as an at-large selection.
The official announcement will be made at 9 a.m. (EST) via webcast on www.ncaasports.com.