Mountain Lions win season opener

By Doug Fitzgerald published August 29, 2008

PUEBLO- Cassey Santucci and her University of Colorado at Colorado Springs teammates had a pretty simple plan going into Friday's season-opening match against the St. Edward's Hilltoppers.

“The one thing we've said mostly is focus on what you have to do that moment,” said Santucci.

Mission accomplished for Santucci and the Mountain Lions, who dispatched St. Edward's 3-0 (26-24, 25-17, 25-14) at Colorado State-Pueblo's newly remodeled Massari Arena. UCCS will play its second game of the CSU-Pueblo Fall Classic against Washburn at 3 p.m.

Santucci knocked down the first UCCS point of the season, and then added three more as the Mountain Lions raced to a 13-7 lead in the first set. The offensive outburst was a long time in coming for Santucci, who saw very limited playing time in her first two seasons with the team.

“I'm so excited, I've worked really hard to get out here,” said Santucci, who finished the match with six kills."œI knew it was going to be competitive with all of these freshmen coming in. I knew they were good and that they'd be nipping at my heals for a spot.”

Those freshmen had their ups and downs. Four of UCCS'six newbies were on the court as St. Edward's not only overcame the early first-set deficit, but even surged to a 19-17 advantage.

But it was also a freshman, Sonja Johnson, who led the Mountain Lions with 10 kills and another, Kelsey Pobar, who had a team-best 19 digs. Other freshmen contributed, as setter Alex Nuttall had 11 assists, middle blocker Karina Miastkowska had three kills and two assisted blocks and and hitter Molly Crockett added nine digs and two kills.

But the star, fittingly, was the team's lone senior. Jessica Stewart ran the offense efficiently with 19 assists and dazzled defensively with 15 digs, several of which were spectacular.

“I thought it was really clean and it came together really well,” said Santucci."œThe freshmen performed really well and everybody came together as a team.”

UCCS came back to win the first set as Johnson scored the team's final two kills and wrapped up the 26-24 win with a service ace.

Lauren Orth had three of her seven kills as UCCS cruised in the second set and Kim Boogaard had two of her seven kills and one of her four blocks to lead the Mountain Lions in the third set.

Leigha Whitmire, Ashley Vander Hey and Pam Osborn led St. Edward's with six kills each.

UCCS hit .211 as a team and was formidable defensively, allowing St. Edward's just a .052 hitting mark.

“I thought that it looked good overall,” said Santucci."œEverybody was just trying to be aggressive.”

And stay in the moment.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Cassey SantucciCassey Santucci12MB/OHSo.
Cassey SantucciCassey Santucci12MB/OHSo.
Cassey SantucciCassey Santucci12MB/OHSo.
Cassey SantucciCassey Santucci12MB/OHSo.
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSSr
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSJr
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSSo
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSFr
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