Grizzlies nearly pull off second upset in as many days
Jennings records 19 kills, .500 hitting percentage
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.— The Adams State College volleyball team came from a set down on two separate occasions before committing nine attacking errors in the fifth set alone as the Grizzlies’ bid for an upset of a nationally-ranked team for the second day in a row came up just short to No. 16 Southwest Minnesota State, which improved to 7-1 with a 25-19, 22-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-5 victory over the 3-4 Grizzlies in both team’s final match at the Marriott Volleyball Invitational, hosted by the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.
The Grizzlies, who had defeated No. 8 Minnesota-Duluth in five sets on Friday, finished the tournament 2-1, second only to the Mustangs, who went 4-0. SMSU, ranked 12th in the Preseason CBS College Sports Network/AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Poll before falling four spots in the first regular season poll, defeated their intra-state and Northern Sun Intercollegiate Rivals in straight sets earlier in the day.
The Bulldogs finished the tournament with a 2-2 mark while the host Mountain Lions went 1-3. Mesa State finished 0-3.
The Grizzlies got a wonderful effort from senior middle hitter Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.), who put down a season-high 19 kills while hitting .500. She also had four blocks as did sophomore setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.), who finished with a season-high 49 assists and 12 digs, good for her second double-double of the season.
Grizzly outside hitters Andrea Tuck (Erie, Colo.) and Kimberly Ingram (Roswell, N.M.) were also in double figures putting down 12 and 11 kills, respectively.
Defensively, the Grizzlies received 15 digs from freshman libero AJ Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and 11 from sophomore Amanda Strauss (Espanola, N.M.).
The Mustangs had three players with 11 or more kills and four that hit .300 or higher as setter Sara Graf recorded 50 assists while leading the attack that hit .268 overall. Laura Hegerle led the way with 15 kills and nine digs while Devin Diedrich finished with 14 kills and a .344 attack percentage. Kasey Loeslie, who hit .321 while putting down 11 kills, finished with a match-high seven blocks.
SMSU’s Sarah Quiram led all players with 23 digs.
The Mustangs maintained a slight lead through much of the first set and went on a 6-1 run in the late going to go up 24-17 before finishing off the opener with a Loeslie kill.
The Grizzlies would go on to even the match as a 5-0 run behind Strauss’ serving to take a 12-8 lead. ASC would lead by as much as five on a Jennings kill that put the Grizzlies up 22-17 before the Mustangs came back to within one as the Grizzlies misfired on each of the next four points.
However, a Jennings kill and one of her two service aces stopped the bleeding, moments before Tuck finished the set off.
The Mustangs would come right back to take the third set as they hit .444 with just two hitting errors in the 25-17 stanza that ASC never led.
The fourth set was much closer and featured 11 ties and a pair of lead changes. The Grizzlies led it down the stretch building 17-14, 19-16 and 20-17 leads, the last of which came on one of Jennings’ six fourth set kills.
Maggie Geske and McNeil then traded kills before back to back Hegerle points and an exchange between Tuck and Hegerle put the score at 22-21.
Diedrich then tied it with a kill on a Grizzly overpass before a Brittany Wenzel service error gave the Grizzlies a 23-22 lead. Lauren Swain then put down a kill to tie the game at 23 before Jennings and McNeil connected for kills on the final two points of the set as the Grizzlies sent the match into the fifth.
That was when the Mustangs took over, not as much on their own talents as on the mistakes of the Grizzly side of the net. ASC committed errors on the first three points of the set before a Jennings and McNeil block of Hegerle put the Grizzlies on the board.
However, ASC would give the points right back as a Hegerle kill and McNeil hitting error put the Mustangs up 5-1.
The Grizzlies would settle in a little bit but watched a 7-0 Mustang run, that included four Grizzly hitting errors put the Minnesota team up 12-2.
Tuck would have two kills down the stretch, but the benefits of both were wiped out by more hitting errors as the Grizzlies, who hit negative .316 in the fifth set, saw a 2-match winning streak snapped as they fell to 1-3 in 5-set matches this season.
The Grizzlies, who are 2-1 against nationally-ranked foes but just 1-3 against those not ranked this year, will now prepare for the start of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play next Friday at defending RMAC West Division and overall co-champion Fort Lewis, a team the Grizzlies upset in the quarterfinal round of last year’s RMAC Tournament.
The Skyhawks went 5-3 in the non-conference portion of their season.
ASC is also at arch-rival Western State, 1-6 heading into a Saturday night match at Grand Canyon (Ariz.), on Sept. 13 before returning home for the first time in 2008 to face New Mexico Highlands on Sept. 19.