Grizzlies looking to take advantage of home court during 3-match weekend
Nationally-ranked Metro State comes to town Thursday
ALAMOSA, Colo.— After struggling on the road over the past two weeks, the Adams State College volleyball team is looking forward to some home cooking as the Grizzlies are preparing for three home matches in as many night starting Thursday, against nationally-ranked Metro State.
First serve in Plachy Hall is slated for 7 p.m.
The Grizzlies, who took advantage of their first wave of home matches in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play in September going a strong 3-1, also play host to Colorado Christian on Friday and Regis on Saturday.
Both of those matches begin at 7 p.m. as well.
All three can be heard live on KSPK-FM (104.1 in Alamosa) and via the internet at www.kspk.com. Live subscription-based coverage can also be seen thanks to B2 Networks and live statistics will be available on the Grizzlies’ website by clicking here.
Saturday’s match will also feature the Grizzlies’ Blackout Night promotion as coach Lindy Mortensen and her team hope to break the program’s NCAA Division II era (1992-Present) attendance record of 774 set in last year’s first Blackout Night win over Colorado State-Pueblo.
Although the Grizzlies, who are 8-10 overall and 5-5 in RMAC play, will be at home they still face a daunting challenge this week in both quantity and quality.
The Metro State Roadrunners come into their own 3-match weekend with a lot to prove after they lost two of their three matches last week while falling three spots to No. 21 in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 poll.
The 13-6 Roadrunners, who have now been ranked amongst that group for seven straight weeks, reached as high as No. 14 early last month, but stand just fifth in the tough RMAC East Division standings with a 6-4 conference record. They also sit just a game ahead of the Grizzlies, who are third in the RMAC West eighth in the overall standings that will eventually determine the seeds and qualifiers for the 8-team RMAC Tournament to be played Nov. 12-14.
The Roadrunners’ go to player is sophomore outside hitter Bri Morley, who stands third in the 14-team RMAC in kills per set at 3.64. The sophomore outside hitter is also hitting a solid .252. Coach Debbie Hendricks, who has guided her team to the NCAA Tournament in each of her nine years with the program, also has a solid middle blocker in junior Anna Mapes, who ranks second in the RMAC in hitting percentage at .387, and an impressive libero in senior Amy Watanabe, who leads the conference in digs after averaging 4.57 per set thus far.
The Grizzlies have similarly ranked stars, most notably senior middle hitter Darcy Jennings-Calkins (Lakin, Kan.), who leads the RMAC in blocks and total points with 1.25 and 4.55 per set averages. She is also ranked just above Morley with her 3.65 kill per set average and is fifth in the conference in hitting percentage at .357.
Outside hitter Dominique Davis (Denver, Colo.) has also played well and leads all RMAC freshmen with her 3.28 kill per set average, the eighth best in the league overall.
Davis also has extra motivation this week as the Denver East High School graduate will be playing against teams from her home city.
Defensively, the Grizzlies are led by sophomore libero AJ Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who is coming off a solid weekend in which she recorded 54 total digs, an average of 6.75 per set, while digging up a career-high 30 attacks last Friday at UC-Colorado Springs.
On Friday, the Grizzlies, who have not defeated the Roadrunners in the last 13 tries, will face a Colorado Christian Cougar squad that is currently 4-15 overall and 1-9 in conference play heading into a Thursday night encounter at Colorado State-Pueblo.
However, the Cougars have been quite competitive as of late taking a 3-set win over New Mexico Highlands, their first conference win of the year, before falling to Fort Lewis in four sets and RMAC West Division leading Mesa State later last weekend.
They are led by junior middle blocker Kelly Clausen, who is averaging 3.02 kills per set while freshman outside hitter Kim McCalmont is leading the RMAC in service aces per set at 0.37.
Saturday’s match with the Regis Rangers could also be quite a battle.
After getting off to a slow 2-6 start with four losses coming to nationally-ranked foes, the Rangers have proved to be a quality side winning every conference match except for the two against division-leading Nebraska-Kearney and Mesa State while running their overall record to 10-8.
The Rangers, who play at Western State on Thursday and Colorado State-Pueblo on Friday, are paced by junior Jessica Howe, last year’s RMAC Tournament MVP, and junior setter Devin Eckhardt. Howe is averaging 3.41 kills per set, fifth most in the RMAC. Eckhardt, who also sets regularly to sophomore middle blocker Lyz Kann, ranked ninth in the RMAC in hitting percentage at .265, is ranked fourth in the RMAC in assists per set at 10.06, slightly more than the Grizzlies’ Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.), who is doling out 9.74 per set.