Mountain Lions use home court edge to upset Grizzlies
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.— After winning six of seven and eight of 10 on home or neutral courts, the Adams State College Grizzlies found out how tough it can be to win on the road as the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Mountain Lions upset the Grizzlies in four games (30-18, 28-30, 30-25, 30-25) on Friday night in the Lions' Den. Dominating the match, UCCS outhit the Grizzlies by a .257 to .072 count to improve to 7-6 overall and 2-3 in RMAC action. The Grizzlies fell to 8-4 overall and 3-2 in RMAC play, one and half matches behind RMAC West Division leading Mesa State College.
Mountain Lion sophomore Jill Wrenn had 20 kills, 16 digs and an impressive .340 night to lead the way while senior outside hitter Kelly Olson chipped in another 18 along with a match-high 25 digs. Middle Blockers Caroline Ottino and Kelley Angel combined for another 24 kills while setter Lindsey Hillegass had 63 assists, good for a ninth place tie in the UCCS single-match record book.
ASC sophomore outside hitter Sheena Brundage had 14 kills while junior middle blocker Megan Jennings put down nine. Each had five blocks as did junior middle blocker Kallee Bingham.
Blocking was one of few categories that the Grizzlies had an advantage stopping 11 Mountain Lion attacks throughout the night, four more than UCCS recorded. However, UCCS' back line defense was impressive as the Mountain Lions recorded 88 digs, 22 more than the Grizzlies. Libero Nataleie Newberry had 24 of those.
Hitting just .022 in the first game and .045 in the second, the Grizzlies were never truly in synch as the Mountain Lions used a 9-2 run to take a big 18-9 first game lead. ASC would cut the gap to 20-15 before the Mountain Lions connected once again using five kills, an Olson service ace and another Wrenn kill to go up 25-16 en-route to ASC's worst single-game loss since Aug. 28.
The Grizzlies would regain momentum in the second game leaping out to 13-5 and 18-9 leads before a spirited and gradual Mountain Lion comeback tightened things up. Up just 28-27 after an Olson kill, the Grizzlies watched UCCS commit one of their 16 service errors to give ASC a game point. Wrenn answered before a Brundage kill tied the match at the intermission.
The third game proved to be the biggest battle thus far as the Mountain Lions maintained a small and tenuous lead through much of the match before a Mountain Lion service miscue and Brundage kill pulled the Grizzlies within one at 20-19. Ottino, who had a match-high seven blocks, and Wrenn then answered with three kills before a Grizzly hitting miscue allowed UCCS to take a 24-19 lead. The Grizzlies would pull within three on an Ashton Thomas kill before two Mountain Lion kills and an exchange of service errors gave UCCS the 30-25 win.
Looking to force a fifth game, the Grizzlies would take a 17-13 lead in set number four before Ottino had three kills in a 5-1 Mountain Lion run that knotted the set at 19. Tied against at 20, 21 and 22, Myers, Angel and Wrenn each put down kills before another Mountain Lion service error gave ASC some hope down by just two at 25-23.
However, the Mountain Lions would score three more kills in as many points as they put the match away with two Ottino blocks.
The Grizzlies had won the last four matches between the teams, but have now dropped matches on each of the last two Fridays. They will try to rebound on Saturday night in Pueblo as they face Colorado State University-Pueblo at 7 p.m. in Massari Arena. Just 4-9 overall, the Thunderwolves have won four of their five RMAC matches including a come-from-behind 5-game triumph over New Mexico Highlands University on Friday night. They sit a full match ahead of ASC for second place in the RMAC West Division standings and can forge a first place tie with Mesa State (10-5, 5-1 RMAC) with a win over the Grizzlies.