Mountain Lions can't handle Regis
DENVER - Saturday night's 3-0 (30-26, 30-28, 30-23) loss to the Regis Rangers didn't do anything to derail the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' playoff aspirations. It did, however, deny the Mountain Lions an opportunity to enhance those chances.
Going into this past weekends matches, CU-Colorado Springs knew it had to come away with at least one road win on the tough swing through the Denver metropolitan area.
Mission accomplished, thanks to Friday's defeat of Colorado Christian.
"Anytime you play in the (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) east, it's important to come away with a win. It's a tough, tough division," said CU-Colorado Springs Jessica Wood, whose team plays in the Western Division. "For us, right now we're in the race to get in the tournament so every win makes a big difference."
But in order to get the two road wins that would put the Mountain Lions in the catbird seat for a spot in the RMAC playoffs, they would have to break one of two long-standing curses. That proved to be a much more daunting task.
"Physically we're there. Technically we're there," said Wood about how her team stacks up against Regis and Metro, both of which have historically dominated CU-Colorado Springs. "Tonight it was just the focus factor. It's hard to play in somebody else's gym and things get tough in the middle of the season. That's where our youth can hurt us a little."
Metro State won Thursday for the 20th time in 21 meetings against CU-Colorado Springs. Regis came into Saturday's match boasting similar dominance, having won 18 of the 19 meeting between the schools.
Make that 19 of 20 now. But not because the Mountain Lions were outmatched.
"We're stacked up the same," said setter Lindsay Hillegass, who had 36 assists and five kills. "We've got the same quality of player at every position on the court. We just lost focus tonight."
The first two games were back-and-forth affairs during which Regis was simply able to offer forth a couple more times than CU-Colorado Springs could send back.
Game 3 was more like a history lesson featuring the ghost of CU-Colorado Springs teams past. Regis raced to a 5-0 lead thanks to three service aces by Nikki Peniata, expanded the advantage to 20-10 and cruised to a 30-23 win to close out the match.
"I thought we were going to come out fighting (in Game 3)," said Hillegass. "Then that first girl came out and aced us and we just kind of gave up."
Caroline Ottino led the Mountain Lions (11-8, 6-5 RMAC) with 15 kills and a sparkling .444 hitting percentage, while Jill Wrenn added 10 kills. Natalie Newberry had a match-high 15 digs.
High-flying Holly Yamada had a match-high 17 kills for Regis (9-10, 7-4 RMAC).
Getting away from the Denver area won't make things any easier for CU-Colorado Springs. Nebraska-Kearney, ranked No. 1 nationally, comes to the Lions Den on Saturday. On Sunday, No. 13 Fort Hays State comes to town.
Winning one or both of those matches would be a huge boost, but the crucial matches come afterwards, when the Mountain Lions face their six Western Division rivals again in a drag race for playoff position.
That's when the playoff train will derail or arrive at the station.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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