Rangers win serving battle, RMAC Semifinal
ASC bows out despite 24 kills from Tuck
KEARNEY, Neb.— Ten service aces by the Regis University Rangers combined with eight Grizzly service errors were too much for the Adams State College volleyball team to overcome as the Grizzlies dropped a 4-set Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal match to the Rangers, Saturday night here in the University of Nebraska-Kearney’s Health & Sports Center.
The fifth-seeded Rangers, who now move on to the tournament’s championship match on Sunday at 3 p.m. against No. 7 seed Mesa State, were led by 24 kills from Jessica Howe. They also received a match-high 18 digs and six aces from libero Cassidee Young in the 25-18, 20-25, 25-17, 25-22 win.
The Grizzlies, who finished their second straight 15-13 season, highlighted by a RMAC Tournament Semifinal appearance, also got another stellar effort from junior outside hitter Andrea Tuck (Erie, Colo.), who recorded 24 kills and 11 digs while hitting .431. Fellow outside hitter Kimberly Ingram (Roswell, N.M.) also chipped in 12 kills on a solid .321 hitting effort.
Tuck had a career-high 29 kills in Friday night’s 5-set win over the tournament host Lopers, ranked fifth in the Bison/American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll. That win was ASC’s first in 22 all-time tries against the Lopers.
The Rangers have now won six straight matches improving to 18-11. They were ranked 10th in this week’s NCAA Division II Central Regional Rankings but can be assured of a spot in the NCAA Division II National Tournament with a win over Mesa State, which was not ranked amongst the top 10 before knocking off No. 2 seed Western New Mexico on Friday before posting a 5-set win over. No. 6 seed Colorado Mines in the first semifinal.
The winner of the RMAC Tournament, which had seen the lower seeded team win each of the first five matches, earns the conference’s automatic berth. Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Champion Concordia-St. Paul, the number one team in the nation and the region, is also guaranteed of a spot while six other teams will receive at large bids.
On Saturday, the Grizzlies out-hit the Rangers by a slight .252 to .250 margin throughout the night but could not overcome the serving battle as a service error helped start a 10-0 Regis run that put the Rangers up 15-8 in the third set.
ASC, which received eight kills from Tuck and four from Ingram in a 25-20 second set win, had led the third frame 8-5 after a Ranger service error. However, Young had three of her five third-set aces in the big spurt as the Rangers forged ahead two sets to one with the 25-17 win.
The fourth set was tied five times in the early going and was a true battle throughout before a Howe kill triggered a 3-0 Ranger run that made the score 11-8.
Down by as many as four at 13-9, 16-12 and 17-13, the Grizzlies did not give in and battled back to within 18-17 on kills from sophomore libero Amanda Strauss (Espanola, N.M.) and Ingram before Jennings and Ingram combined for a block.
The Grizzlies failed to convert on their chance to even things up as a service error put the Rangers up 19-17.
Howe, Ingram and Tuck then combined for the next four kills that made the score 21-19 before a Hannah Tautolo ace put the Rangers up 22-19.
Tuck responded with back-to-back kills coming out of a timeout before a Sarah Keiter kill put the Rangers up 23-21. Tuck answered with her 24th kill of the night to again pull the Grizzlies within a single point but gave it right back with a serve that sailed just inches long.
The Rangers then claimed the win as the Grizzlies committed an attacking error at the end of a long rally.
The Rangers had an 11-6 edge in blocking as Liz Franz put down six while Elizabeth Kann chipped in five, including two solos. The Grizzlies received four from junior middle hitter Darcy Jennings (Lakin, Kan.), who also had eight kills.
Grizzly freshman AJ Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) started at setter for the second straight night and recorded a match-high 47 assists and six digs, while her Ranger counterpart Devin Eckhardt had 45 assists and five digs.
ASC, which does not have a single senior on the roster, went 3-2 against nationally-ranked teams this season, the fourth under head coach Lindy Mortensen who is now 2-2 in RMAC Tournament matches.