Grizzlies rally past Skyhawks in RMAC, home opener
ALAMOSA, Colo.— Down a set and facing two set points in the second, the Adams State College Grizzly volleyball team scored four straight points to win the second set 26-24 before cruising to 25-13 and 25-20 wins in the third and fourth sets, respectively, as the Grizzlies rallied from behind to post a 4-set win over rival Fort Lewis College in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opener for both teams, Friday night in Plachy Hall.
The Grizzlies, who improved to 4-4 overall, now share the RMAC’s longest winning streak at four matches along with Nebraska-Kearney, ranked ninth in the nation according to this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association NCAA Division II Top 25 Coaches’ Poll.
Fort Lewis fell to 2-7 overall with the loss.
The Grizzlies, playing at home for the first time this season, received some stellar nights from senior middle hitter Darcy Jennings-Calkins (Lakin, Kan.) and freshman outside hitter Dominique Davis (Denver, Colo.), who combined for 33 kills, while getting a fine 46-assist, 10-dig double-double effort from junior setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) as the Grizzlies snapped a 5-match regular season slide to the Skyhawks.
The Grizzlies also relied on sophomore libero AJ Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) who recorded a match-high 14 digs as the Grizzly defense held the Skyhawks to a .175 hitting effort throughout the night while putting down 10.5 blocks.
The Grizzlies, who hit just .073 in the Skyhawks’ 25-21 opening set win, hit an impressive .344 the rest of the way, finishing the match with a .260 effort, the second best the Grizzlies have had this season.
Jennings-Calkins, who moved into fourth place on ASC’s all-time career kills chart, led that effort and finished with a .714 hitting effort putting down 16 kills on 21 swings. Davis, who came off the bench, finished the night with a match-high 17 kills.
Chelsea Flaming, the RMAC’s kills leader coming in, finished with 15 kills and 11 digs to pace the Skyhawks. Taylor Hilberry added 12 while hitting .346 to aid the cause.
The first set was tied four times, including at 17, before four Grizzly miscues and a block by the Skyhawks’ Haley Jennings and Natalie Reed preceding a Grizzly timeout put the Skyhawks up 22-18.
The Grizzlies then rattled off three straight points to close to within 22-21 before a Flaming smash, another Grizzly error, and another block by Jennings and Reed, that later of whom finished with a team-high five blocks, gave the Skyhawks the early lead.
The second set was even tighter and was tied on 13 separate occasions. It also featured six lead changes, none bigger than in the late going when the Grizzlies rallied from 23-20 and 24-22 down as Jennings-Calkins put down three kills in four points erasing the first of two Skyhawk set points.
With Jennings-Calkins, who hit .900 in the first and second sets combined, at the service line, Davis then put down a kill to tie the set at 24 before junior Kelsey Miller (Las Animas, Colo.) and McNeil teamed to block Flaming giving the Grizzlies a set point of their own.
They converted as a Jessica Wilson hitting error gave the Grizzlies all the momentum in the world heading into the intermission.
It showed in the third set as the Grizzlies came out rocking hitting an impressive .476 in the third set as a 5-0 run with Jennings-Calkins at the service line broke open what was a 4-3 set.
Leading 9-3 at the time, the Grizzlies gradually extended the lead to as many as 12 points at 23-11 before a kill from freshman Callyn Weyenberg (Gilbert, Ariz.) and a hitting error by Flaming put the Grizzlies up two sets to one.
The Skyhawks did not give up and put up more of a fight in the fourth set rallying from 13-9 and 16-13 down to tie it 16.
The set was later tied at 17 after a Flaming kill before kills by Jennings-Calkins and Davis followed by a Jennings-Calkins service ace highlighted a 4-0 Grizzly run that eventually proved to be enough as the Grizzlies completed the win on a Palmer service ace, one of six the Grizzlies had on the night.
Jennings-Calkins had a match-high four of those while the Skyhawks recorded just two as a team all while being guilty of seven service errors.
The visitors also misfired on 26 swings throughout the match as the Grizzlies took full advantage of the mistakes.
McNeil and Miller forced some of those as each finished with six blocks while sophomore defensive specialist Kelsey Huckle (Gunnison, Colo.) tallied a season-high 10 digs.
She will have extra motivation on Saturday when the Grizzlies host arch-rival Western State at 7 p.m. The Mountaineers, who hail from Huckle’s hometown, claimed their first win of the season on Friday night as they swept three straight sets (25-17, 25-23, 26-24) at Colorado State-Pueblo.
Now 1-8 overall and 1-0 in RMAC play, the Mountaineers are coached by Katie Moskowitz, the Grizzlies’ coach from 2002-04.
Fans who come out on Saturday can watch two matches for the price of one as Alamosa High School and Bayfield High School will tangle in Plachy Hall starting at 4 p.m.
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