Youngsters shouldering load for Mountain Lions

By Doug Fitzgerald published September 20, 2003

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs bench is a very lonely place. Having already lost two 6-footers, Desiree Myhre and Kelly Olson, the Mountain Lions now have more coaches and trainers (three) occupying courtside seats that players (two).

The Fort Lewis Skyhawks and the Adams State Grizzlies took advantage of CU-Colorado Springs' misfortune this past weekend, with Adams State defeating the Mountain Lions 3-1 on Friday, and Fort Lewis taking an 3-2 heartbreaker Saturday.

With the loss of two key front-row players, a pair of untested youngsters are being called upon to carry much of the scoring load. So far, sophomore Kristen Denman and freshmen Caroline Ottino and Jill Wrenn have answered the call.

Denman and Ottino shared the team high in kills against Adams State with 12 each. They both had 17 against Fort Lewis, while Wrenn had 21.

"There was a lot of pressure put on us after (the team) lost some players," said Ottino.

"But it's definitely something we can handle," chimed in Denman before Ottino could finish.

The players both smiled. Helping each other out, even in an interview, is something the Mountain Lions have learned to do and do well.

"Our team gets along so well, it doesn't matter who's on the court" said Denman. "We trust each other."

That's a good thing, because with only eight players they need to have trust. That faith in each other showed in a gutty effort against Fort Lewis on Saturday.

The Mountain Lions trailed the first game 14-11, then outscored the Skyhawks 19-11 the rest of the way. An Ottino kill accounted for the winning point.

"Caroline's running the show," Denman blurted while Ottino was modestly answering a question about her increased role on the team.

Fort Lewis won the next two games, which featured numerous long rallies.

The Mountain Lions recovered to win Game 4, thanks to six kills by Wrenn.

In Game 5, CU-Colorado Springs had a chance a match point four times, but Fort Lewis fought off each of them. The Skyhawks finally won the marathon 20-18.

Against the Grizzlies on Friday, CU-Colorado Springs was able to limit the unforced errors that has been its nemesis for most of the season. CU-Colorado Springs committed a season-low four service errors and had only one blocking error.

Reducing mistakes, however, wasn't enough to prevent Adams State from winning its eighth straight match. The Grizzlies outhit the shorthanded Mountain Lions .278 to .064, and out blocked them 13-9.

After a 12-3 run gave Adams State a convincing win in the first game, the Mountain Lions overcame a 21-18 deficit in Game 2, thanks to a pair of kills by freshman Jill Wrenn, to win 30-25.

But the 2003 version of Adams State volleyball is its best in many years and, with CU-Colorado Springs still trying to adjust to its reduced roster, the Grizzlies used seven Amy Cousin kills to win Game 3, 30-15, then a 9-1 closing run to win Game 4, 30-18.

The losses dropped CU-Colorado Springs to 3-10, 1-3 in the RMAC. They didn't damper the Mountain Lions' optimism, though.

"We've had a lot of change in a short amount of time," said Ottino. "But we're starting to come around."

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Kelly OlsonKelly Olson2OHSr.
Kelly OlsonKelly Olson2OHJr.
Kristen DenmanKristen Denman3OH/RSSo.
Kristen DenmanKristen Denman3OH/RS
Desiree MyhreDesiree Myhre9MB
Desiree MyhreDesiree Myhre9MB
Caroline OttinoCaroline Ottino14MB
Caroline OttinoCaroline Ottino8MBFr.
Caroline OttinoCaroline Ottino13MDSo.
Caroline OttinoCaroline Ottino13MB
Caroline OttinoCaroline Ottino13MB
Jill WrennJill Wrenn5OH/RSFr.
Jill WrennJill Wrenn4RSSo.
Jill WrennJill Wrenn5RS
Jill WrennJill Wrenn5RS
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