Mountain Lions roll in regular-season finale
COLORADO SPRINGS - Wow. Where did that come from?
Coming off its most embarrassing loss of the season, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs saved its best for last as the Mountain Lions defeated the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers 3-0 (30-11, 30-15, 31-29) Saturday night at the Lions' Den.
The impressive performance came on the heals of a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Regis Rangers on Tuesday.
"The Regis game woke us up," said Caroline Ottino, who with fellow senior Jill Wrenn was honored prior to the match. "They kicked our butt when we played them at their place and that was an eye-opener.
"We had a lot of discussions about it and intense practices this week."
OK, so that's where it came from. And Saturday, Colorado Mines bore the full brunt of those intense practices.
Diane Sheldon led the Mountain Lions (14-13, 11-8 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) with 13 kills. The junior committed only a single hitting error, giving her an outstanding .480 hitting mark.
UCCS dominated the first two games, committing just four hitting errors to produce a combined .415 attack mark. The Mountain Lions also blocked eight shots and had five service aces.
It was a glimpse of what they could be when all the pieces mesh.
"It feels like we're a team; like we're one (entity)," said Wrenn of the feeling the team had. "We're all working together."
Behind three kills by Ottino, UCCS raced to a 15-6 lead in Game 1. The score was 20-10 when the Mountain Lions closed with a 10-1 run behind two kills by Brooke Akers and a pair of assisted blocks by Akers and Stephanie Laband.
Three kills by Sheldon helped Jessica Stewart serve UCCS to a 6-0 lead in Game 2. That lead had expanded to 16-6 when Stewart served a 7-0 run to put the game away.
The Orediggers, though, had no intention of rolling over in their final game of the season.
"They picked up their defense a lot in the third game," said Ottino. "They started picking up things that they weren't picking up in the first two games. They did make us fight for that last win a lot more."
The fight started as Mines opened 4-1 and held the lead until a Sheldon kills tied it at 15. Neither team led by more than two the rest of the way. The Mountain Lions trailed 28-26, but a mines service error, a kill by Akers and a Mines hitting error gave UCCS a shot at match point.
The Orediggers' Amanda Rebol tied the game at 29 with a solo block, but kills by Andrea Weedman and Sheldon gave UCCS the match.
Nicole Leeper led Colorado Mines (11-17, 7-12 RMAC) with eight kills.
Akers added nine kills and four assisted blocks and Weedman had nine kills and 21 digs for UCCS, which had already wrapped up the No. 7 seed in the RMAC playoffs. The Mountain Lions will face Nebraska-Kearney Thursday in the first round of the RMAC playoffs, which will be played in Silver City, New Mexico, the home of No. 1 seed Western New Mexico.
Ottino and Wrenn added eight and six kills respectively. The duo leaves UCCS as No. 3 and 4 respectively on the schools all-time kills list.
"It feels bittersweet," said Wrenn. "It's awesome we won but it's sad that its our last game at home."
"There's no better way to go," added Ottino. "Our team came out and we played so well together. It was one of the best team games we've had all season. That's all we could ask for."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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