Grizzlies fall two points shy at RMAC West-leading Fort Lewis
Palmer surpasses 1,000 dig mark
DURANGO, Colo.— Sophomore Dominique Davis (Denver, Colo.) and freshman Megan Tapia (Pueblo, Colo.) combined for 37 kills while senior setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) tallied a season-high 50 assists but were not quite enough for the Adams State College Grizzlies, who dropped a 5-set heartbreaker (23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 18-25, 15-13) to host and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference West Division leading Fort Lewis College, Friday night in intense volleyball action at the Skyhawks’ Whalen Gymnasium.
The Grizzlies also received a team-high 18 digs from junior libero AJ Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who became just the seventh player to go over 1,000 career digs in ASC’s NCAA Division II era (1992-Present) history, but slipped to 5-11 overall and to 2-6 in RMAC play with their fifth loss in six away matches.
Meanwhile, the Skyhawks, paced by a 16-kill, 11-digs double-double by Jessica Wilson, won for the sixth straight time while improving to 12-5 overall and to 6-3 in RMAC play, a whole match ahead of Mesa State (10-6, 4-3 RMAC), who the Grizzlies visit Saturday afternoon at 4 o’clock.
The Skyhawks will then play the Mavericks on Sunday.
Western New Mexico is also in position to take the RMAC West leading this weekend after improving to 5-3 in conference play with a 3-set home win over Colorado State-Pueblo on Friday evening in Silver City, N.M.
Davis, who leads the RMAC in kills with 265, had eight in the first set alone on Friday and finished the night with 20 while Tapia put down a career-high 17. Davis also had 14 digs recording her sixth double-double, four of which have come in the last five matches, and fourth 20-plus kill night of the season.
Redshirt freshman middle hitter Deprece Washington (Johnstown, Colo.) also finished in double-figures with 10 kills while McNeil tallied 13 digs to finish with her fourth double-double of the season and the 20th of her career. McNeil now also has 15 50-plus assists in her career and is just 107 assists shy of matching Monica Garcia’s NCAA Division II era school-record of 3,489 career assists likely to fall sometime during the Grizzlies’ 5-match homestand that follows Saturday’s match at Mesa State.
Meanwhile, Palmer tallied an impressive 10 digs in the second set alone reaching and surpassing the 1,000 milestone on a long rally that tied that set at 6. She now has 1,011 career digs.
After leading the first set 13-11, the Grizzlies lost each of the next four next points and later trailed 17-14 before one of Davis’ kills followed by a Washington service ace helped spark the Grizzly comeback that allowed them to tie the set at 18.
The frame was also even at 19, 20, 21 and 22 before a Washington kill and block, one of the Grizzlies’ nine on the night, gave the visitors a pair of set points at 24-22. The Skyhawks were able to erase one of those thanks to a Kristin Stephan kill but could not stop Davis from answering on the next rally.
The second set was just as close in the late going before two Wilson kills, a Heather Bryant service ace and two Grizzly hitting errors gave the Skyhawks a commanding 24-19 lead.
The Grizzlies then took advantage of a Wilson miscue and two Tapia kills to close to within two but were unable to complete the comeback as Adriana Saiz and Taylor Hillberry, who had a combined 12 block assists, stuffed Tapia to send the match into the intermission tied at a set each.
The Skyhawks, who hit at a .148 clip throughout the night, then hit a stellar .407 in the third set but watched the Grizzlies answer back in the fourth set as Davis and Washington combined for seven kills in the frame that saw the Grizzlies open 7-3 and 23-14 leads before cruising to the win.
Looking to capture their first road win over the Skyhawks since 2004, the Grizzlies fell behind 4-1 early in the fifth set but fought back eventually taking a 12-11 lead thanks to two blocks, a Tapia kill and back-to-back Skyhawk hitting errors.
However, a Davis hitting errors and a Saiz kill gave the Skyhawks a 13-12 lead.
Tapia and Hilberry then exchanged kills before a Tapia hitting error gave the Skyhawks the win.
The Grizzlies were guilty of 40 total attacking errors throughout the night, 11 because of Skyhawk blocks. They did have a 61-55 edge in total kills and a 72-67 edge in digs and were guilty of just five service errors.
However, the pesky Skyhawks used 23 digs from libero Jenna Kinzer and their slight net-defense advantage, led by Hillberry’s eight blocks, to frustrate the Grizzly hitters.