Akers, UCCS have fun in opener
COLORADO SPRINGS â€" Brooke Akers had a lot of fun Thursday night, and that made it fun for all Mountain Lions fans.
Akers had 21 kills as the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs won its season opener 3-2 (30-28, 28-30, 30-22, 27-30, 15-13) over the Southeastern Oklahoma State Savage Storm Thursday night at the Lionsâ€TM Den before 288 rambunctious spectators.
â€œI had a lot more fun tonight than I think Iâ€TMve had in a long time,â€ said Akers, who transferred from Division I Air Force, where she led the team in kills, blocks and hitting percentage this past season.
But while Akers had great success enjoyed her time at Air Force, the Division II atmosphere and a great group of new teammates has made the transition a joy.
â€œItâ€TMs a whole different environment from what I was used to,â€ said Akers. â€œBut the girls were really welcoming and the whole program is really great.
â€œComing in, I wasnâ€TMt really nervous at all. I was just excited to step on the court for the first time.â€
That excitement showed. The junior posted a .444 hitting percentage with an intimidating array of power attacks for which the Savage Storm could find no answer.
Caroline Ottino added 17 kills for UCCS as sophomore setter Jessica Stewart exploited the middle of the Southeastern Oklahoma State defense by repeatedly feeding her two big middle blockers. Stewart finished with 57 assists.
When the Savage Strom started packing the middle late in the match, Stewart sent the ball outside to Andrea Weedman (13 kills) and Jill Wrenn (seven kills).
â€œOnce they start closing on our middles, it opens up the outside,â€ said Stewart. â€œThat was the plan â€" bring it to the middles and then get it to the outsides.â€
The offensive strategy was made possible by a UCCS defense that did a good job keeping the ball in play. The Mountain Lions had 98 digs, led by libero Laura Meeterâ€TMs 24.
The Savage Storm stayed in the match with solid play at the net. Southeastern Oklahoma State amassed 13 blocks and forced 48 UCCS hitting errors.
Olivia Franceskini led the Savage Storm with 18 kills, while Jennifer Landry added 16.
After each team claimed a close 30-28 win to tie the match at 1-1, UCCS closed strong to take a 30-23 decision in Game 3. The Mountain Lions opened a 20-16 lead in Game 4 before the offense stalled, allowing Southeastern Oklahoma State to grab a 30-27 decision and force a deciding fifth game.
â€œWe got a little tentative at the end of Game 4,â€ said Stewart. â€œThat match should have ended in four games.â€
Game 5 was tied at 13 when the UCCS blockers forced a hitting error. The Mountain Lions ended the match when Diane Sheldon drilled a laser shot cross court.
The win came in the second game of the second annual Mountain Lion Invitational, which is being hosted by UCCS through Saturday with games running continuously from 9 a.m. to approximately 10 p.m. The Mountain Lions play Armstrong Atlantic at 8:15 p.m. Friday, Montana State-Billings Saturday at 3:15 p.m. and Georgian Court Saturday at 7:45 p.m.
UCCS fans are hoping Akers has just as much fun in those games.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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