McNeil breaks record as Grizzlies claim 4-set win over UCCS
Loosbrock, Washington also shine in Grizzlies' third straight home victory
ALAMOSA, Colo.— She can now be called Queen Mary.
Adams State College senior setter Mary McNeil (Phoenix, Ariz.) now reigns atop the Grizzlies’ NCAA Division II era (1992-Present) career assists chart after she doled out 42 while helping lead the Grizzlies to an important 4-set Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference volleyball win over visiting University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Mountain Lions, Friday night here in Plachy Hall.
McNeil, who also tallied 15 digs, good for her 21st career double-double, now has 3,493 career assists, four more than former Grizzly great Monica Garcia had in her 2001-04 career.
Her record-breaking assist came on a Deprece Washington (Johnstown, Colo.) kill during the fourth and final set of the 25-21, 15-25, 25-16, 25-20 win that improved the Grizzlies to 7-12 overall and to 4-7 in RMAC play. The Mountain Lions fell to 11-9 overall and to 5-6 in conference play and now trail Colorado Christian, which claimed a 5-set win at Western New Mexico, for the eighth and final RMAC Tournament berth by a single match.
The Grizzlies, now winners of three straight at home, are two matches back along with arch-rival Western State.
McNeil’s record-breaking effort was just part of a fine night for the Grizzly squad, which combined for a season-high 16 blocks. Washington, a redshirt freshman middle hitter, was involved in nine of them and also put down 12 kills while hitting .286. Her nine block assists were a career-high.
Grizzly freshman outside hitter Laura Loosbrock (Alamosa, Colo.) also shined as she put down a match and career-high 15 kills. Meanwhile, junior libero AJ Palmer, a 2008 Rampart High School graduate, led the Grizzly back-row with 23 digs against her hometown team. Palmer has now tallied 20 or more digs in four of her five career efforts against the Mountain Lions, whose campus is just miles south of her home.
Sophomore Dominique Davis (Denver, Colo.), who returned to the lineup as a first-set substitute for freshman starter Megan Tapia (Pueblo, Colo.) also finished in double figures with 11 digs. Davis also had a season-high five blocks and nine kills, including the match-clincher.
Meanwhile, senior middle blocker Nicole Pederson led the Mountain Lions with 11 kills and seven blocks. Junior Sonja Johnson also played a solid match with 16 digs and nine kills.
Loosbrock was on fire from the start putting down six kills in the first set alone. The Grizzlies jumped up 7-2 in the frame but watched the Mountain Lions come back to eventually take a 9-8 lead.
The rest of the set, which included six ties and four lead changes, was nip-and-tuck before a Kelsey Miller (Las Animas, Colo.) kill followed by a Grizzly block, a Davis kill and a Palmer service ace gave the Grizzlies an 18-16 lead.
Pederson then answered with a kill to close the gap to one. However, Washington put down kills on three of the next four points helping the Grizzlies build a 21-18 cushion that eventually allowed the Grizzlies to finish off the set on a Loosbrock kill.
The Mountain Lions, who have won just one of their last four matches, would bounce back and leapt out to a big 12-4 lead in the second set. The Grizzlies pulled within six moments later but could never get any closer as the Mountain Lions did not commit a single unforced hitting error in the set while hitting an impressive .414 in the frame.
The Grizzlies really got their net-game going in the third set recording six blocks in the frame. Down 11-7, the Grizzlies came rolling back with a 9-2 run that included three blocks to take a 16-13 cushion on a McNeil service ace.
After a Nikki Kinzer kill and Grizzly hitting error that allowed the Mountain Lions back to within 16-15, the Grizzlies closed out the set with an impressive 9-1 spurt that featured three more blocks, including a set-ending rejection of Pederson by Washington and Davis.
The Grizzlies then jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the fourth set and still led 14-7 before a Davis kill helped McNeil tie the record. McNeil and Washington then teamed for a block to give the Grizzlies a 16-7 lead before Washington struck from the right side down the line to allow McNeil to break the record while putting the Grizzlies ahead 17-7.
Looking like they would cruise to victory, the Grizzlies did bobble a bit as Sonja Johnson served seven straight points as the Mountain Lions clawed to within 18-17.
They still trailed by just one at 21-20 after a Kinzer and Jenica Shippy block before the Grizzlies put down kills on each of the last four points of the match to seal the victory.
The Grizzlies now have an impressive 17-6 record at home over the last three seasons but will put that mark to the test Saturday night when they host the nation’s 18th-ranked Metro State College Roadrunners who have won five straight matches after besting Colorado State-Pueblo in four sets on Friday night.
The Roadrunners, 15-5 overall and 9-2 in RMAC action, have never lost in eight trips to Alamosa. They will be the seventh nationally-ranked squad that the Grizzlies have faced this year, but the only one that has ventured into Plachy Hall since the then 21st-ranked Roadrunners claimed a 3-set win a year ago Friday, one of just three home losses the Grizzlies have suffered over the last two campaigns.
The match, which will double as the Grizzlies’ Dig Pink night to help raise funds for the fight against breast cancer, is slated to begin at 7 p.m. and can be heard live on KSPK-FM (104.1 in Alamosa) and via the internet at www.kspk.com. Online video coverage on America One (Formerly B2 Networks) will also be available as will live statistics.