Grizzly spikers looking to clinch RMAC Tourney spot
ALAMOSA, Colo.— The Adams State College volleyball team can clinch a spot in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament with just one more win and will have two chances to do so as the Grizzlies close out the regular season with two key matches this weekend in Plachy Hall.
The Grizzlies, 13-11 overall and 10-7 in RMAC play this year, host arch-rival Western State, the lone team that can keep the Grizzlies out of the RMAC Tournament on Friday at 7 p.m. before taking on Fort Lewis (16-9, 11-6 RMAC) at the same time Saturday night.
Friday’s match against the Mountaineers, 9-16 overall and 8-9 in conference play, can be heard live on KSPK-FM (104.1 in Alamosa) and via the internet at www.kspk.com. Live statistics and subscription based video coverage of both matches can be found on the Grizzlies’ new website (www.ascgrizzlies.com).
The Grizzlies enter the weekend as winners of four of their last five matches and could be anywhere from the fourth seed to out of next weekend’s RMAC Tournament in Kearney, Neb. depending on how they and numerous other teams do in the final weekend of what has been a competitive and balanced RMAC season. Currently tied with Regis for seventh place in the overall RMAC standings, the Grizzlies are just one match behind both Mesa State, who they swept in two matches this season, and Fort Lewis, who must still visit Plachy Hall, where the Grizzlies are 6-2 while averaging 487 fans per match.
The Grizzlies, looking to complete a second straight winning season, are two full matches ahead of Western State in the conference standings but could be edged out of the RMAC Tournament thanks to the conference’s head-to-head tiebreaking provision if the Mountaineers won both of their matches, the second of which comes at Colorado State-Pueblo, just 3-14 in conference play, on Saturday night.
On Friday, the Grizzlies will be looking to avenge a Sept. 13 4-set loss to the Mountaineers in Gunnison, a match that came during the team’s slow 1-3 conference start. Winners of 10 of their last 15 since, the Grizzlies have two of the best players in the entire conference in juniors Andrea Tuck (Erie, Colo.) and Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.). Tuck, who had an impressive 21-kill, 14-dig double-double in the first meeting with the Mountaineeers, leads the RMAC in both kills and total points putting down 4.05 kills and 4.52 points per set. Jennings, who ranks third in the RMAC with her .322 hitting percentage, leads the conference with her 1.01 blocks per set average and ranks 11th in total points.
Sophomore outside hitter Kimberly Ingram (Roswell, N.M.) has also played well as of late putting down 49 kills in ASC’s last five matches alone. Redshirt freshman setter Megan Hawkins (Elizabeth, Colo.) is also getting it done averaging 9.41 assists per game after coming in to replace sophomore Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.), who went down mid-way through the season with a knee injury. McNeil still ranks fifth in the RMAC with her 9.24 assists per game while Hawkins, who is also hitting .278 herself, does not yet qualify to be ranked in the RMAC statistics as she has not played in half of ASC’s games.
The Mountaineers, who started just 4-14, have also been playing some solid volleyball recently winning five of their last matches, including a 5-set win over then seventh-ranked Nebraska-Kearney, the end of the Lopers’ 22-match winning streak.
Senior middle blocker Erin Osleson, who would love nothing more than to get into the RMAC Tournament for the first time in her career, leads the team with 295 kills, a 3.11 per set average. She also is hitting a team-best .267 and ranks 10th in the conference in both categories. She is also just behind sophomore teammate Lindsay Huson in blocking. Huson has a team high 71 blocks and also paces the team with 19 service aces.
Setter Amy Thompson is also a tough player and is averaging 9.22 assists per game while ranking second on the squad in hitting percentage (.262) and third in total digs with 211.
Fort Lewis, which was leading the RMAC West Division last month, is heading in the opposite direction of Western State winning just two of their last seven matches after tasting victory in 10 of their previous 11, including a 4-set win over the Grizzlies on Sept. 12 in Durango.
The Skyhawks, who could still win a share of the RMAC West Division title with two victories this weekend combined with a Saturday night loss by current division-leading Western New Mexico at Mesa State, rank second in the conference in both hitting percentage and kills. They also pace the league with 175 service aces, 10 of which came in the earlier match against the Grizzlies.
Chelsea Flaming leads the team with her 3.37 kills per set average and also ranks fourth in the conference in service aces at 0.39 per. Setter Melissa Childs is second in the RMAC in assists at 10.34 per set while Jessica Wilson holds that position in service aces with her 0.42 per set average, significantly aided by her six aces against the Grizzlies.
The Skyhawks, also looking to get into a third straight NCAA Tournament, visit Colorado State-Pueblo on Friday night
Each of the Skyhawks’ last two visits to Alamosa have resulted in 5-game/set matches that the teams have split.
The Grizzlies have defeated Western State at home in two of the last three years.