Mountain Lions Stay Hot with Fifth Win in Past Six Matches

By Doug Fitzgerald published October 9, 2009

COLORADO SPRINGS - The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs volleyball team won for the fifth time in its past six matches as the Mountain Lions defeated the Adams State Grizzlies 3-1 (21-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-19) Friday evening at the Lions' Den.

UCCS, which improved to 11-7, 6-4 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, has now won seven straight home matches.

Middle blockers Nicole Pederson and Laura Brodie were again dominant, notching 14 and 13 kills respectively thanks to 'put-on-a-tee' sets by Cindy Bathelt, who finished with 45 assists. Pederson also assisted on seven of UCCS' 13 blocks, while Brodie had four block assists. Lauren Orth, who was inserted into the game late in the first set, responded with six block assists.

"Our serve receive is getting a lot more comfortable. We're buying into this system and we're trusting each other a lot more which allows Cindy to set our middles," said libero Kendall Utz, who had a team-high 18 digs. "When she's not setting the middles, it leaves only one blocker on the outside.

"They're having to commit to our middles because our middles are dominating right now."

Sonja Johnson took full advantage of the Grizzlies' need to spread out at the net. The sophomore from Denver had 12 kills and a 37.9 hitting percentage. The Mountain Lions continued their recent accurate hitting, posting a team average of 21.3 percent.

Utz had four of UCCS' season-high eight service aces, including a stretch of three consecutive aced serves.

"I got lucky with the first one but it gave me confidence," said Utz. "I went shallow and then deep so they couldn't get comfortable in their serve receive."

But it was the Mountain Lions that looked nervous in the first set. Adams State (8-10, 5-5m RMAC) opened with a 15-6 lead behind three kills each by Darcy Jennings and Dominique Davis. UCCS adjusted at the net and was able to close to within one at 21-10, but a kill by Mary McNeil and a solo block by Vanessa Cushnie helped the Grizzlies close the 25-21 win.

"Our nerves got out," said Utz in explanation of the comeback. "Losing to them in preseason shook us up a little bit."

UCCS did lose 3-2 to Adams State in a preseason tournament in Durango, Colo. The Mountain Lions didn't let that happen Friday on their home floor.

Jennings left early in the second set after becoming ill, and the loss of the RMAC's No. 2 ranked player in kills per set and No. 5 in hitting percentage made Adams State a bit one-dimensional. UCCS notched 11 of its 13 blocks after Jennings departed.

Now controlling play at the net, UCCS took its first lead of the match at 11-10 on a Pederson kill and ended up outscoring the Grizzlies 17-5 at one point.

The third set was tied at 10 when Utz put down three consecutive aces during a 4-0 run. UCCS' lead was still tenuous at 19-17 when two kills by Johnson and an ace by Bathelt helped the Mountain Lions close with a 6-2 run.

UCCS led 12-10 in the fourth set when Brodie put down three kills during a 6-0 run that broke it open. A Shippy kill finally closed out the match.

A.J. Palmer had a match-high 30 digs to lead Adams State. That number is all the more remarkable considering she was limited in the fourth set because a procedural error by the Grizzlies bench forced her to be subbed in as a defensive specialist instead of staying in as a libero. Davis led Adams State with 12 kills, while Callyn Weyenberg added 11.

The Mountain Lions will complete their stretch of three matches in three nights on Saturday with a 7 p.m. contest against Western State at the Lions' Den.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Cindy BatheltCindy Bathelt16S
Cindy BatheltCindy Bathelt16S
Cindy BatheltCindy Bathelt16S
Kendall UtzKendall Utz8L
Kendall UtzKendall Utz8L
Laura BrodieLaura Brodie10MBFr.
Erika CushnieErika Cushnie7OH
Erika CushnieErika Cushnie7OH
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