Career nights not quite enough for Grizzlies
Jennings-Calkins breaks rally-scoring record
GOLDEN, Colo.— Career nights from several players including Darcy Jennings-Calkins (Lakin, Kan.), who set a rally-scoring era school record with 13 blocks, were not quite enough for the Adams State College Grizzlies who dropped a 5-set nail-biter to Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University, Saturday evening in their last match at the Holiday Inn-Denver West Village Oredigger Volleyball Classic played here in the Colorado School of Mines’ Lockridge Arena.
The Grizzlies, came from two sets to one down to force the decisive fifth set and led the final stanza 10-9 on one of Tamara Fowler’s (Rio Rancho, N.M.) career-high 18 kills but watched a 4-0 run by the ‘Lopes help end the intense match and their weekend on a sour note with the 18-25, 30-28, 21-25, 25-19, 15-12 setback.
The Grizzlies, now 0-4 for the first time since 1998, did have several players step up their games as freshman Dominique Davis (Denver, Colo.) put down a career and match-high 21 kills while hitting .277. She also had four blocks as the Grizzlies combined for 19 as a team, the most of any ASC squad since Oct. 11, 1997 (21, at Western State).
Jennings also had a record night recording 19 kills while hitting .405. She also broke Kallee Bingham’s former rally-scoring era (2001-Present) record for single-match blocks (12) and finished just two digs shy of a triple-double.
AJ Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) recorded a career and match-high with 28 digs while setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) tallied an impressive 56 assists. She also added a career-high seven blocks while finishing with 13 digs.
Junior Kelsey Miller (Las Animas, Colo.) also posted a career-high with 14 digs while freshman Valerie Garcia (Colorado Springs, Colo.) joined her in double-figures with a career-high 11 digs.
The ‘Lopes, who went an impressive 5-0 during the weekend, were led by all-tournament team selection Caelen Hiller, who finished with a 19-kill, 12-dig double-double effort.
The Grizzlies certainly won the statistical game putting down 67 kills, 17 more than the ‘Lopes, while outhitting them .168 to .169 throughout. The Grizzlies also had an 83-64 edge in digs and a 19-14 cushion in blocks but could not win the close sets and thus the match.
After jumping out to a 9-2 lead and winning the first set, a stanza in which they hit an impressive .457 as a team, the Grizzlies fell behind 20-17 in a second set war that featured 18 separate ties and 11 lead changes. The battle intensified in the late-going as both teams fought off set points before a Hiller kills and back-to-back hitting errors by Davis allowed the ‘Lopes to score the final three points of the second set while evening the match at one apiece.
The ‘Lopes were also strong in the second half of the third set gradually increasing what was a 13-12 lead to as many as four points, the ultimate margin of victory in the middle set of the night.
However, the Grizzlies proved to be quite resilient and went on a 7-1 run behind the serving of Miller and Kelsey Huckle (Gunnison, Colo.) to build an 8-3 lead that grew to 18-9 on kills by Fowler and Jennings and later to 20-10 on a Jennings kill and a GCU hitting error.
Claiming the victory on another hitting error, the Grizzlies then jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the fifth set but watched the ‘Lopes come back to take a 5-4 lead.
Jennings and Davis then put down kills to give the advantage back to their squad before the teams exchanged points evenly for several minutes.
After Fowler put down a kill to break a 9-9 tie, GCU’s Megan Toth tied the match at 10 before she and Shelby Taylor teamed to block Fowler giving the ‘Lopes for good at 11-10.
After another Grizzly attacking error and a timeout from coach Lindy Mortensen, Toth and Taylor again blocked Fowler to give the ‘Lopes a 13-10 cushion, eventually enough as Hiller answered Fowler and Jennings-Calkins kills while closing out the match that lasted just a minute short of two hours.
Throughout the weekend, Jennings-Calkins put down 19 blocks, a 1.50 per set average that leads the RMAC. She also finished with 43 kills, just three short of Davis’ team-leading mark of 46, a 3.29 per set average that ranks the 5-foot-11 outside hitter amongst the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference leaders.
Palmer tallied 61 total digs, a 4.36 per game average, while McNeil, playing in her first matches since going down with a 2008 season-ending injury in early October, tallied 127 assists, a 9.07 per set average. She was also second on the team in blocking with 10, a 0.71 per set average.
The Grizzlies’ overall struggles were just part of an overall tough weekend for the RMAC’s West Division that saw five of the seven teams in it go without a win. The four RMAC West Division teams (Adams State, Fort Lewis, Mesa State, Western State) competing in the Oredigger Volleyball Classic went just 1-15 throughout the weekend.
The Grizzlies will try to bounce back next weekend when they travel to Durango to play three more classic tournament matches at Fort Lewis College. The Grizzlies will face Dixie State (Utah), UC-Colorado Springs and Cal-Poly Pomona, ranked 18th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Preseason Top 25 Coaches’ Poll. Those opponents went a combined 9-2 during the opening weekend of play across the country.