Mountain Lions earn first-ever RMAC playoff win

By Doug Fitzgerald published November 9, 2007

KEARNEY, Neb. -- To a season full of firsts for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs volleyball program, add one more.

The Mountain Lions earned their first Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference playoff victory when they beat the Mesa State Mavericks 3-0 (30-27, 30-24, 31-29) Friday afternoon and the Health and Sports Center.

UCCS advances to Saturday's tournament semifinals, where it will face Adams State at 5 p.m. CST.

The Mountain Lions enjoyed a multi-faceted attack Friday, with Heidi Fehringer leading the way with 12 kills. Lauren Orth and Brooke Akers added 10 each, while Stephanie Laband and Diane Sheldon each had eight.

"It shows that we're flipping good," laughed Fehringer when asked about the balanced scoring. "We don't have just one certain person that we look to because we've got that balance."

The 2007 season has been loaded with firsts for UCCS. The Mountain Lions scored their first-ever win over a nationally-ranked team (Western Washington) and then repeated the feat against Nebraska-Kearney. That win over UNK was also the first ever over the Lopers. UCCS knocked off Regis twice, the first time it had done so in a single season.

There were also accomplishments that, while not first, were significant. Aside from the first win over Kearney, UCCS scored its fourth victory over Mesa State and Metro State, its third over Regis and its second over Western New Mexico.

"We are so excited, but that's really not what we've been thinking about," said UCCS coach Jessica Wood about setting all of the precedents. "We're talking about beating teams one game at a time and Mesa was just the first on the list."

Too bad for them. The Mavericks got 13 kills from Alisan Tompkins but could not withstand the Mountain Lions' relentless pressure. A solid service game, while accounting for just three aces, was instrumental in neutralizing Mesa State's power game.

"We wanted to serve them out of their game, so (Wood) kept changing up the serves," said Fehringer. "It got into their heads and they started tipping it to us."

Fehringer and Sheldon each had four kills as UCCS squeaked out a 30-27 decision in Game 1. Mesa State took an early lead and was up 16-13 when the Mountain Lions rallied to win 16 of the next 24 points. The Mavericks held off three game points, but could not stop the fourth.

Game 2 was tied at 17 when UCCS, behind two kills and a block by Fehringer, assembled an 8-2 run to take a 25-19 lead. The Mountain Lions went on to a 30-24 decision as Fehringer had five kills and Akers and Laband had four each.

UCCS was leading Game 3 15-11, but Mesa State put together an 8-1 rally behind the strong service game of Tompkins. The Mountain Lions trailed 20-18 when they reeled off five straight kills, three by Lauren Orth and one each by Laband and Fehringer. After the Mavericks fought off two match points to tie it at 29, a service error and a block by Akers and Orth gave UCCS the win.

Besides winning their first RMAC tournament match, the Mountain Lions also virtually assured yet another program first -- a trip to the NCAA regionals. Wood, though, said that regionals weren't on her players' radar screen yet.

"They have been focused on the (RMAC) tournament from the git-go," she said. "They're not looking past anything; they're looking toward the next match.

"They just want to play the next opponent and they want to do it now. The problem is keeping them focused on getting some rest in between."

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Diane SheldonDiane Sheldon11OH/RSSr.
Diane SheldonDiane Sheldon11OH/RSSr.
Diane SheldonDiane Sheldon11OH/RSSr.
Stephanie LabandStephanie Laband15OH/RSSr.
Stephanie LabandStephanie Laband15OH/RSSr.
Stephanie LabandStephanie Laband15OH/RSSr.
Heidi FehringerHeidi Fehringer7MB
Heidi FehringerHeidi Fehringer7MB
Lauren OrthLauren Orth5OHFr.
Lauren OrthLauren Orth5OHFr.
Lauren OrthLauren Orth5OHFr.
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