Mavericks hold on to RMAC West lead with 5-set triumph
Jennings-Calkins puts down career-high 27 kills for ASC
ALAMOSA, Colo.— With first place in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference West Division on the line, Adams State College senior middle hitter Darcy Jennings-Calkins (Lakin, Kan.) recorded a career-high 27 kills as the Grizzlies overcame large and late second and third set deficits only to watch the Mesa State College Mavericks come from 11-4 behind in the fourth set to take that frame and eventually a hard-fought 5-set (25-21, 22-25, 25-27, 25-23, 15-12) RMAC clash, Friday night in front of a large and boisterous crowd of 676 in Plachy Hall.
The Mavericks, led by 24 kills and nine blocks from senior opposite hitter Tessa Andrews, maintained first place in the RMAC West Division and are now 7-7 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the conference. The Grizzlies, who also received 11 kills from freshman outside hitter Dominique Davis (Denver, Colo.), and another 10 from junior middle Kelsey Miller (Las Animas, Colo.), who hit .588 on the night, fell to 7-6 overall and to 4-2 in the RMAC after suffering their first home loss in four tries.
The Grizzlies, who could have taken over first place with a win, committed 11 service errors in the match and were out-blocked 15-9 thanks in large part to Andrews.
After dropping the first set 25-21, the Grizzlies found themselves down 21-17 in the second before two Davis kills and two attacking errors by Maverick outside hitter Meagan Bosch, erased the entire deficit.
The Mavericks’ Antoinette McCormick, who finished with nine kills and five blocks, then put down a kill to give the Mavericks the lead once again before four straight hitting errors by McCormick and Alisan Tompkins, who had 12 on an otherwise solid 14-kill, 9-dig night gave the Grizzlies the set and the momentum heading into the intermission.
The third set was tied nine times and featured four lead changes but appeared to be going the Mavericks’ way as they built a late 24-18 lead on a Rachel Beaty/Andrews block and another Grizzly hitting error before three Jennings-Calkins kills, a Tamara Fowler (Rio Rancho, N.M.) service aces and a hitting error by Andrews allowed the Grizzlies to erase five successive set points.
Third-set substitute Kristen DiPaola (Trinidad, Colo.) then put down a kill to erase the last of MSC’s set points while tying the set at 24 before Fowler the second of her team-high three service aces to put the Grizzlies on top 25-24.
Andrews had an answer and put down a kill to tie the set before Jennings-Calkins, who had 10 kills in the third set alone, put down back-to-back points giving the Grizzlies a 2-1 overall lead.
The Grizzlies then used a 6-0 run with freshman defensive specialist Vanessa Cushnie (Kamuela, Hawai’i) behind the service line to build the 11-4 lead in the fourth set. Cushnie, playing for just the fourth time this season in place of sophomore Kelsey Huckle (Gunnison, Colo.), who was out sick, had an ace at the end of that run.
However, the Mavericks called their second timeout and eventually battled back to take a 15-14 lead as Tompkins served six straight points as the Grizzlies committed three miscues in the run that was finally ended by a kill from freshman Callyn Weyenberg (Gilbert, Ariz.).
Jennings-Calkins then put down another kill before an Andrews misfire gave the Grizzlies a 17-15 lead.
However, the Mavericks did not give up and went on a 5-1 spurt featuring back-to-back blocks to take a 20-18 advantage.
The Mavericks also led by two at 22-20 before Tompkins and junior setter Tara King put down kills to give the Mavericks a 24-20 lead.
Trying again to erase a late deficit, the Grizzlies did fight of three set points as Tompkins committed back-to-back hitting errors before Davis put down a kill. However, Tompkins redeemed herself putting down a kill to knot the match at two sets apiece.
The Mavericks continued to roll and built a 5-2 fifth-set lead before Miller teamed with Grizzly setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) on a block before Miller exchanged blows with MSC’s Gabrielle Lovato as the teams went point-for-point.
With the decisive fifth set tied at 8, the Mavericks took the lead once again on a King kill, moments before the teams exchanged service errors making the score 11-10 in favor of the visitors.
Jennings-Calkins then put down a kill to tie things at 11 before Tompkins and Andrews both responded to give the Mavericks a 13-11 lead, one that would eventually hold up as two more Maverick blocks at the end of the match atoned for a late Andrews hitting error.
Jennings-Calkins, who was hitting close to .700 in the third set, finished the night hitting .420 as she took 50 swings while registering a team-high five blocks defensively.
The Grizzlies, who had five freshman play, hit .211 as a team, out-hitting the Mavericks by 40 points.
They also had a 60-52 advantage in total digs as sophomore libero AJ Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) finished the night with 18 to win the duel with her Maverick counterpart Whitney Howard, who chipped in 14. Valerie Garcia (Colorado Springs, Colo.) also had 10 digs for the Grizzlies while Fowler and Cushnie finished with nine each.
Garcia and Cushnie, who received a combined 61 serves during the night, were also solid from the service line and put all 36 of their combined serves in play.
King recorded 54 assists for the Mavericks while McNeil tallied 51 for her third 50-plus effort of the season and the 12th of her career. Both players also tallied five kills while King had a slight 9-6 edge in digs between the two solid setters.
The Mavericks, who had not won in Plachy Hall since 2006, committed just four service errors on the night, a true difference in the match.
The Grizzlies now go on the road for five straight matches, starting Tuesday night at Division I Wyoming, currently 8-7 heading into a Saturday night clash with New Mexico in Laramie, Wyo.
The Grizzlies then begin a stretch of seven straight matches against the RMAC’s East Division next Thursday at Chadron State.
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