Veterans Orth, Stewart lead way as UCCS beats N.M. Highlands
COLORADO SPRINGS- On a night when newcomers filled six of the eight spots in the Mountain Lions Lineup, it was the two veterans that came up big.
Sophomore Lauren Orth had a career-high 15 kills and senior Jessica Stewart added 47 assists to lead the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a 3-1 (25-20, 28-26, 22-25, 25-19) victory over the New Mexico Highlands Cowgirls Friday evening at the Lions'Den.
Orth was blissfully unaware of her career mark until after the match.
â€œOh gosh, did I have that many?'she asked."œThat's exciting. I didn't know.â€
It was also exciting for UCCS fans, as the Mountain Lions hit .196 for the match, their fourth-best mark of the season. Much of that efficiency was due to Stewart and the gradual maturation of the team's offense. From the start, UCCS was able to execute the quick-set offense preferred by coach Jessica Wood.
â€œIn practice the past few weeks, we've been really concentrating on making the middle attacks really quick,â€ explained Stewart,"œbecause it catches the other team off guard.â€
It had the desired effect as middle blockers Karina Miastkowska and Kim Boogaard recorded 11 and six kills respectively. It also did something else.
â€œUsually, we want to establish the middle first off and see how their (middle blockers) respond,â€ said Stewart."œWe started out that way and it opened up the outsides.â€
As a result, outside hitters Orth, Andrea Brodie (11 kills) and Molly Crockett (nine kills) were all big parts of the Mountain Lions attack.
Defensively, Kelsey Pobar led the way with a match-high 21 digs, while Crockett and Alex Nuttall each added 11 Boogaard had a solo block and four assisted blocks.
UCCS (9-9, 4-5 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) has now won two straight and three of its past four.
Ashley Murray led New Mexico Highlands (7-11, 1-8 RMAC) with 12 kills.
That efficiency was at its peak in the first set as UCCS hit a solid .396, but that mattered little early as Highlands built a 14-11 lead. The Mountain Lions answered with a four-point run capped by a pair of blocks. After a Highlands point tied it at 15, UCCS, behind two Orth kills, ran off a 6-1 run and was able to make the advantage stand.
The Mountain Lions faced a double-set point, trailing 24-22, in the second set when Orth and Molly Crockett had kills to knot it at 24. The teams traded points until a Cowgirl service error and an Orth kill lifted UCCS to a 28-26 win. Orth and Brodie each had six kills in the set.
Set No. 3 exposed UCCS'well-chronicled inexperience as the Mountain Lions had 10 hitting errors and five service errors in a 25-22 setback.
The Mountain Lions shook off the malaise in the fourth set as Orth added four more kills to her total and the team hit .343. A 7-2 run gave UCCS a 9-4 lead that wouldn't dip below three the rest of the way.
The Mountain Lions will try to make it three in a row when they host Western New Mexico Saturday.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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