Mountain Lions Use Depth Charge to Sink Texas Woman's Pioneers
Coaches often worry about whether they have a deep enough bench to get their teams through the rigors of a intercollegiate season.
After Saturday's early match, it's now obvious that University of Colorado at Colorado Springs coach Keith Barnett has no need to worry.
With most of his starters seeing little or no court time, Barnett and the Mountain Lions dismantled the Texas Woman's Pioneers 3-0 (25-23, 25-12, 25-15) in each team's third match of the 2009 Marriott Volleyball Invitational at the Lions' Den.
It was a daring move by Barnett, even in nonconference play, since his team will be a factor in the regional rankings all season. When at that level, any loss is detrimental.
"You've got to have faith in your players," said Barnett. "If you're not going to play them, what's the point of having them on your squad?"
Starters Cindy Bathelt and Andrea Brodie didn't play at all. Laura Brodie played in just one set, while Nicole Pederson and Lauren Orth saw action in two.
Replacing them were Lindsey Stich, Kim Pollard, Cassey Santucci, Jenica Shippy and Courtney Carrell - all of whom could be called upon to play key roles this season but had seen little or no action in UCCS' first two matches.
They responded as Barnett hoped. Stich, a freshman setter from San Antonio, had 33 assists, 11 digs, four kills and contributed to two assisted blocks. Shippy added five kills while Carrell and Pollard each had four.
Stich credited Bathelt, who was a starter for Florida last season, for helping make her collegiate debut so successful.
"Cindy has influenced me so much," said Stich. "She's always helping me out and coaching me."
Barnett, though, wasn't surprised that Stich or any other member of his bench responded so well to the challenge.
"We have a first and kind of a second team in practice," said Barnett. "They work hard every day and do their jobs and they earned that playing time.
"That's why our first team is so good - by being pushed every day by players of the same caliber. That's what makes us a good team. You can't be a good team by having eight players who are good and seven who are not. You have to have 15 good players and that's what we have."
Sonja Johnson led the Mountain Lions (2-1) with 10 kills. Laura Brodie made the most of her limited action in the third set with five kills. Kelsey Pobar keyed the defense with 23 digs while Johnson had 14 and Alex Nuttall added 11.
Alyson Harlan led Texas Woman's (1-2) with 11 kills and Kendra Coulson contributed 21 digs.
The inexperienced UCCS lineup raced to leads of 5-0, 8-2 and 10-3 early in the first set, but TWU worked its way back, finally tying the match at 15. It was still tied at 21 when a kill by Orth and a service ace by Pobar put the Mountain Lions up 23-21. Stich hammered home an overpass one point later and, after a service error, Pederson hammered a perfect set by Stich for the clincher.
Stich distributed the ball evenly in the set as six UCCS players had either two or three kills.
The Mountain Lion defense took over in the second set. A big front line scored four blocks and altered many other attacks, leading to the Pioneers' woeful -.057 hitting mark. Using that defense, UCCS had the offensive flexibility to put together runs of five, four and seven consecutive points to roll to a 25-12 decision.
"We tried to run our middles a bit more and tried to make our sets a bit faster so we could catch splits," said Stich. "Our defense allowed us to do that because our passes were really, really good. We could run whatever we wanted."
The momentum carried over to the third set. UCCS opened leads of 6-1, 10-3 and 21-10 before a Brodie kill capped the 25-15 win.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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