Grizzlies even record with win over UIW, after battling #26 WTAMU
CANYON, Texas— Giving the perenially-dominant and national-ranked West Texas A&M University Lady Buffs all they could handle before falling in three close, games, two of which went into overtime, the Adams State College Grizzly volleyball team came roaring back for a 3-game, 30-27, 30-24, 30-28 sweep of the University of Incarnate Word Cardinals in it's nightcap of day one action of the WTAMU First General Services Lady Buff Classic on Friday in The Box, the common name for the WTAMU Fieldhouse. The Grizzlies had dropped a tight 30-21, 35-33, 36-34 match to the host Lady Buffs, ranked 26th in the American Volleyball Coaches' Preseason Poll at Noon (CST) before coming back in the evening to handle the Cardinals, members of the Heartland Conference.
The Grizzlies had a balanced attack in the victory and took advantage of 10 Cardinal service errors and a negative .050 UIW hitting percentage to take the match in just 75 minutes. Freshman right side hitter Brittany Muchmore and junior outside hitter Ashton Thomas had seven kills a piece while junior libero Carly Simpson and junior defensive specialist Jocelyn Garcia combined for 26 digs. Simpson had a match-high 15 while Garcia had five service aces.
The Grizzlies hit just .046 on the night but also recorded 10 service aces and six blocks, five of them of the solo variety, to post the win. Junior outside hitter Emily Bussey had two of those solo blocks and chipped in four kills and eight digs after not playing in the WTAMU match. Senior setter Monica Garcia had 25 assists after recording 31 in the morning to raise her career total to 2,463 just 37 shy of reaching the 2,500 mark, something she will likely do on Saturday when the Grizzlies face 28th-ranked Abilene Christian University and Western New Mexico University in the second day of tournament action.
UIW's Kari Chapman, a 6-foot-1 middle blocker, led the Cardinals with 12 kills although her teammates managed just 14 more and a negative .109 hitting percentage. Chapman also had four blocks and six aces, both match-highs, to keep UIW in the match.
All three games were close in the early going before a 5-1 run featuring two Muchmore service aces turning a 1-point deficit into a 21-18 ASC first game lead. Chapman pulled the Cardinals within one at 24-23 before the Grizzlies finished the game with a 6-4 run. Leading by just a 14-13 margin in game two, the Grizzlies watched UIW self-destruct with three straight miscues in a 9-3 Grizzly tear giving ASC a comfortable 23-16 lead en-route to the 6-point win.
ASC held a steady lead through most of game three before four Chapman aces led to a 7-0 Cardinal run that knotted things at 27. Chapman then committed one of UIW's service errors before a Lindsey Merritt ace and Leah Hill kill wrapped up the match.
The day had started with WTAMU vaulting to a 28-15 first game lead after a 12-4 Lady Buff run. The Grizzlies would go on to fight off five of 12 game-points thanks in part to three Monica Garcia aces before WTAMU finally broke through with a Kolby Rhoades kill.
That was just the beginning of a true battle as game two was tied on 10 separate occasions before ASC opened a 23-19 lead thanks to a Monica Garcia solo block and Jessica Scherr attacking error. However, WTAMU would go on to tie things at 23 before taking a 29-28 lead. Thomas answered with a kill, several rallies before a Sheena Brundage kill gave ASC a 32-31 lead and game point.
The Lady Buffs, who entered the season as winners of 213 of their last 220 home matches, would not die fighting off two ASC game points before a Megan Spivey ace and a Grizzly attacking error gave WTAMU, which has now won 10 straight season-openers, a 2-game cushion. The Grizzlies would go on to outhit the Lady Buffs by a .200 to .141 margin in game three but fell by a heartbreaking 36-34 margin.
Brundage finished the match with 15 kills, but hit just .017 on a match-high 58 attempts. Kallee Bingham had nine kills and three blocks, while Simpson finished with a match-high 22 digs. The Grizzlies also had seven aces, three of which came from Monica Garcia. WTAMU, which has won the last five Lone Star Conference Tournament tiles and is the preseason favorite to claim the LSC-South Division crown in 2004, had three players with 10 or more kills, including Rachel Altman and Ambra Clark, who each had 11. Setter Erin Houlihan had 42 assists and 11 digs for WTAMU, which had a .169 to .109 attack percentage advantage.
Friday's First General Services Lady Buff Classic Results
Match 1 - Western New Mexico def. #28 Abilene Christian, 3-2
Match 2 - New Mexico Highlands def. Incarnate Word, 3-1
Match 3 - #26 West Texas A&M def. Adams State, 3-0
Match 4 - #15 Metro State def. Western New Mexico, 3-2
Match 5 - #28 Abilene Christian def. New Mexico Highlands, 3-0
Match 6 - Adams State def. Incarnate Word, 3-0
Match 7 - #26 West Texas A&M def. #15 Metro State, 3-0