UCCS falls to Lopers
COLORADO SPRINGS - Brooke Akers and Caroline Ottino each had 14 kills but the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was unable to keep pace with Nebraska-Kearney Saturday, losing to the Lopers 3-1 (30-17, 33-31, 24-30, 30-19) at the Lionsâ€TM Den.
Kelli Bunger had a match-high 18 kills for Nebraska-Kearney (23-6, 14-3 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference). Erica Burson added 11 kills, while Shannon Claussen and Juli Municz had 10 each.
UCCS came into the match wary of Nebraska-Kearney's deliberate, powerful offense. The Lopers countered with a dink-and-dunk approach that allowed them to race to a 12-2 lead and coast to a relatively easy 30-17 decision in Game 1.
"Our block took away the line shots and the defense played deep to counter the big hit," said UCCS libero Laura Meeter, who had a season-high 31 digs. "They killed us with roll shots and tips to the middle. We had to adjust to that."
Adjust they did, making Game 2 a claustrophobic affair during which neither team led by more than three. The Mountain Lions had two opportunities at game point, but each time a kill by Bunger knotted the score. Nebraska-Kearney finally took the game 33-31 on a kill by Burson and a rotation error by UCCS.
A lost opportunity like that could have caused the Mountain Lions to fold. Instead, they came back.
Game 3 was tied at 13 when UCCS put together an 11-1 run behind three kills by Ottino and two by Diane Sheldon. The Mountain Lions held off a late Nebraska-Kearney rally to win the game 30-24 and send the match to a fourth game.
They might have saved themselves the trouble. UCCS opened Game 4 with three hitting errors and a ball handling error to hand the Lopers a 5-1 lead. The lead was 13-10 when two more hitting errors and another ball handling error extended it to 17-10. The Mountain Lions never recovered, dropping the game 30-19.
Sheldon had 12 kills for UCCS (13-12, 10-7 RMAC) and Andrea Weedman added 11 kills and 24 digs.
Nebraska-Kearney was able to keep the pressure on the UCCS defense, keeping passing opportunities to a minimum by forcing defenders to continually make point-saving digs. When the chance was there, though, the Mountain Lions' offense executed well. UCCS hit .129 despite a big Loper front line that blocked 11 shots.
"Our offense was great tonight," said Meeter. "We needed to have that winning mentality and push through it."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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