UCCS comes back to stun Metro State
COLORADO SPRINGS Ã¯Â¿Â½ University of Colorado at Colorado Springs coach Jessica Wood had seen this before. After battling back to force a deciding fifth game, her Mountain Lions tightened like those too-snug pants on Thanksgiving afternoon. That tension increased with every point as their 5-2 lead over the Metro State Roadrunners turned into a 10-8 deficit.
So Wood did what coaches do in such situations - she called timeout. Her words or wisdom?
"It wasn't science," said Wood. "We were getting tight. I told them to stay calm and play the same game we've been playing all week."
The Mountain Lions responded with two kills by Brooke Akers and a 5-0 run. Metro State setter Stephanie Levi scored on a tip before Akers and Diane Sheldon closed out the UCCS win with consecutive kills.
Akers finished with 16 kills and Jill Wrenn added 15 as UCCS grabbed a clutch come-from-behind victory, 3-2 (22-30, 30-28, 24-30, 30-24, 15-11) over Metro State Saturday evening at the Lions' Den.
It was the Mountain Lions' third consecutive victory and evened their Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference record at 4-4. UCCS is 7-9 overall.
It was also only the third time in 23 meetings, but the second in the past two years, that UCCS had come away with the win.
Stefanie Allison and Julie Green each had 18 kills for Metro State (7-8, 4-4 RMAC).
The Mountain Lions were down two games to one and trailed 23-22 in Game 4 when Stephanie Laband drilled a shot down the line to tie it at 23. The game was still tied at 24 when the Mountain Lions, behind two kills from Akers and one by Wrenn, reeled off six straight points to knot the match.
A big part of the turnaround can be credited to a raucous crowd of 318 that was starting to get into the Roadrunners' heads.
"There was a crazy crowd here tonight and Metro was getting emotional," said Wood. "When that happened, we just needed to stay calm and play hard. And when we did, we started to knock off the points we needed to knock off."
The Roadrunners held the edge in nearly every statistical category, leading UCCS in kills (70 to 58) hitting (.117 to .088), blocks (12 to 11), digs (86 to 66) and aces (6 to 4). Unlike earkly in the season, though, the Mountain Lions consistently managed to eke out a point when it mattered most.
To come back against a good team gave proof to the notion that last week's meltdown against Regis was a season-turning event for the positive instead of the negative that it easily could have been.
"(The team) stopped worrying about making mistakes and decided to fight," said Wood. "That change in mentality alone is visible on the court. That's the big difference maker between our wins and our losses."
That change in mentality was particularly noticeable during key points. ThatÃ¯Â¿Â½s when WoodÃ¯Â¿Â½s new rule keeps her players from recognizing that it is, indeed, a key point.
"They're not allowed to look at the score," said Wood. "That's one of my rules now because they would try to do something different when things got tight.
"The game we've been playing is what gets us to that point so they had to learn to play that way the whole way through."
Simple, but effective. And, of course, it's often the simplest of things that have the greatest impact. Take, for example, Wood's reaction when asked what she'd like to say about Saturday's match.
"That was a great win," she said.
No amount of words could say more.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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