Grizzlies fall in four to streaking Cougars
CCU comes back to claim first rally scoring win over ASC
LAKEWOOD, Colo.— After dominating the first set, the Adams State College volleyball team “overtime” second and third sets and eventually the match as the Grizzlies dropped their Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opener to streaking Colorado Christian University, Thursday night in the CCU Event Center.
The Cougars have now won six straight matches while improving to 6-4 overall. The 18-25, 29-27, 26-24, 25-22 victory also snapped the Grizzlies’ run of nine straight wins over CCU that had dated back to 2001, the first season of rally-scoring play.
The Grizzlies, who could not convert on three set points in the second set with a chance to go up two sets to none, are now 3-6 overall and continue a road trip Friday night at Colorado Mines, 3-0 Thursday night winners over Colorado State-Pueblo, and Saturday at No. 12 Nebraska-Kearney, which posted a 3-0 victory over New Mexico Highlands. Those results were also a part of a 6-1 night for the RMAC’s Eastern Division on the opening night of inter-divisional conference play that continues through the weekend.
Dominique Davis (Denver, Colo.) led the Grizzlies with 14 kills while freshman middle hitter Megan Tapia (Pueblo, Colo.) had a fine 11-kill effort while hitting an impressive .562.
However, they were not enough to stop the Cougars’ Andi Weber or Tija Rudzitis, who combined for 27 of the home team’s 48 kills. Kelly Clausen also played a major factor with nine kills and a match-high eight blocks.
The Grizzlies, led by Davis’ five kills, hit a solid .286 in the first set and did a number on the Cougars defensively coming up with seven blocks, four of which were tallied by true freshman right side hitter Letisha Spencer (Rio Rancho, N.M.), while holding the Cougars to a negative .056 hitting percentage.
Leading just 7-6 early in that set, the Grizzlies pulled away using five different runs of three or more straight points.
The Grizzlies then had a true battle on their hands in the second set, which was tied 15 different times. Neither team led by more than two points for more than half the set until the Cougars went on a 6-2 run to build a 19-15 lead. However, the Grizzlies battled back to tie the set at 21 and again at 23 before taking a 24-23 lead earning a set point on a Davis kill.
But, Rudzitis and Erica Brown would record a block on the ensuing point setting up a dramatic finish to the set that saw each team fail to record the clinching point. After committing a hitting error, Clausen the finally came through to tie the set at 27 with a kill before serving both of the next two points which went the Cougars way on Grizzly hitting errors.
With the match tied at the intermission, the battle continued to a 17-17 dead-lock in the third set until a 4-0 Cougar run triggered by back-to-back Davis hitting errors allowed the Cougars to build a late 21-17 lead. However, a kill by senior outside hitter Tamara Fowler (Rio Rancho, N.M.) and a service ace by sophomore Vanessa Cushnie (Kamuela, Hawai’i) helped the Grizzlies tie the set for the ninth time.
However, Weber answered back with a kill before a service ace by Jenna Larson, who had a match-high three, ended the battle momentarily.
The fourth set was also tight and was even at 20 before Clausen teamed with Weber and Brown on back-to-back blocks before adding a kill and the match-clinching service ace down the stretch.
The Grizzlies did finish the night with a somewhat lop-sided 57-41 advantage in total digs as senior setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) recorded her second straight and 18th career double-double with 33 assists and 12 digs. Her Cougar counterpart Lauren Rosenthal had 43 assists and six digs.
Neither team did a great job offensively as the Grizzlies hit just .092 as a team throughout the match, still a slightly better mark than the Cougars’ .088 attack percentage.
The Grizzlies will attempt to bounce back quickly when they face the Colorado Mines Orediggers, now 7-2 overall, Friday evening. First serve in the Orediggers’ Lockridge Arena is slated for 7 o’clock.