Grizzlies fall just short in RMAC Tourney quarterfinal
Jennings-Calkins, McNeil each record double-doubles in 5-set heartbreaker
KEARNEY, Neb.— Despite a strong 23-kill, 10-block effort from senior middle hitter Darcy Jennings-Calkins (Lakin, Neb.), a double-double from junior setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) and three other double-figure kill performances, the Adams State College volleyball team came out on the short end of an epic 5-set epic heartbreaker against the Mesa State College Mavericks in the second quarterfinal match at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament, which began Thursday here in the University of Nebraska-Kearney’s Health & Sports Center.
The Grizzlies, seeded seventh, won the opening set 25-20 but blew late second and third set leads as the second-seeded Mavericks rallied to go up 2-1. However, the Grizzlies overcame a deficit of as many as eight points down in the fourth only to see the Mavericks, now 19-10 on the year, hit an impressive .357 as a team in the decisive fifth as they move on to the semifinals of the tournament on Friday evening where they will face No. 3 seed Metro State, which won in straight sets over No. 3 seed Regis earlier in the day.
The 20-25, 25-22, 27-25, 19-25, 15-11 loss ended the Grizzlies season at 14-14.
Jennings-Calkins, the team’s lone senior, recorded an impressive 30.5 total points in the match as she finishes her career with 1,353 kills and 512 blocks. She also had two service aces in the match giving her an even 100 for her illustrious career.
The only player in ASC history to ever earn four All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference accolades, Jennings-Calkins finished her career ranked second in ASC history for career kills and blocks and leaves the program as ASC’s NCAA Division II era (1992-Present) record holder in kills, blocks, attacks (3248) total points (1740.5), matches played (113) and games/sets played (442).
She would certainly give all those records back for just a few more points against the Mavericks, who courageously battled from 22-21 down in the second set and from 24-22 down in the third to win both frames, the latter in “overtime”.
Looking to close the Grizzlies out in four, the Mavericks then jumped out to a big 10-2 lead in the fourth set before the Grizzlies went on a 9-0 run to force a Maverick timeout at 13-11. Down 15-12 minutes later, the Grizzlies then went on a big 11-4 spurt as they tied the match at five only to see the Mavericks jump out to a 3-0 lead in the fifth set while holding off the Grizzlies the rest of the way.
The Mavericks received 16 kills each from Antoinette McCormick and Tessa Andrews, who led the way to victory.
The Grizzlies countered with 15 kills from freshman outside hitter Dominique Davis (Denver, Colo.) and 10 each from junior middle Kelsey Miller (Las Animas, Colo.) and freshman outside Callyn Weyenberg (Gilbert, Ariz.). McNeil also chipped in 51 assists and 10 digs while sophomore libero AJ Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) recorded a match-high 21 digs to lead the Grizzly back-row.
In the process, McNeil finished the campaign with 1,010 assists while Palmer tallied 414 digs this season, the most of any Grizzly in four years.
Statistically, the match was even as the final result would have indicated with the Mavericks claiming a slight 61-59 edge in total kills despite being out-hit .171 to .138 overall. The Grizzlies had a slight 70-69 edge in total digs and a 15.5-15 edge in total blocks. However, they did commit six service errors, compared to the Mavericks’ four.
The various sets were tied a total of 22 times and included nine lead changes. The third set was the most back-and-forth as the teams were tied on 13 separate occasions.
Neither team led by more than three points throughout the whole set as the Grizzlies used kills by Weyenberg and Jennings-Calkins to go up 22-20. After a Maverick timeout, Jennings-Calkins and Mesa State’s Alisan Tompkins exchanged blows before Davis avenged a Grizzly hitting error with a kill of her own that gave ASC a 24-22 lead and a pair of set points.
However, Andrews put down two kills around a Davis hitting error as the Mavericks went back on top before Davis tied the set once again at 25.
Andrews and Kelly Regimbal then finished the set off with kills before the Lopers took their early fourth-set lead only to see the Grizzlies storm back to tie the set at 17 on a Palmer service ace.
The teams then exchanged points before a McCormick service error followed by a Vanessa Cushnie (Kamuela, Hawai’i) service ace triggered a 5-0 spurt that put the Grizzlies up 23-18, a lead that was large enough to claim the set, finished off by a Jennings-Calkins kill and an Andrews hitting error.
Andrews and McCormick then put down four kills apiece in the fifth set as the Mavericks claimed the win.