Mountain Lions Finish Run of Gauntlet Unbeaten with Sweep of Western State Mountaineers
COLORADO SPRINGS - The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs volleyball team finished the most physically grueling stretch of their schedule unbeaten as the Mountain Lions defeated the Western State Mountaineers 3-0 (30-28, 25-22, 25-20) Saturday evening at the Lions' Den.
UCCS played three matches in three nights, beating Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference rivals Colorado State-Pueblo, Adams State and Western State. A stretch like that affects players in numerous ways. The fatigue hits hardest in the legs, which impacts hitting, blocking and defensive positioning.
"It's a lot of volleyball in three days. It's a lot of movement and you don't have any time to recover," said UCCS assistant coach Vernon Podlewski. "Their legs start to feel heavier. You hope they can keep enough in the tank to win in three, which we did."
There's also a significant mental aspect to the heavy schedule. The players have little time to digest the gameplan for each opponent.
"Our team came back, understood what they needed to do with the scouting report and did a good job switching from one opponent to another," said Podlewski.
That was apparent Saturday as the Mountain Lions (12-7, 7-4 RMAC) hit 25.9 percent and put down nine blocks. UCCS was remarkably precise, making only seven non-block hitting errors and two service errors.
"It was a pretty controlled match. Everything seemed to fall our way from our passing to our hitting," said Podlewski. "Staying disciplined is staying controlled. You'll notice that we hardly missed any serves."
Laura Brodie led the Mountain Lions with 10 kills and joined her sister Andrea with a solo block and four assisted blocks. Andrea Brodie added nine kills, while Sonja Johnson had eight and Jenica Shippy and Nicole Pederson each had seven. Lauren Orth played only in the third set and had five kills.
Cindy Bathelt had 39 assists, nine digs, three kills and an assisted block for the Mountain Lions. She also, on occasion, showed acrobatics that would make a circus performer proud in keeping some balls alive.
Lindsay Huson had a match-high 14 kills for Western State (3-15, 3-7 RMAC).
The first set was a close as a volleyball match can produce. Western State had 22 kills and hit 26.3 percent compared to 21 and 25.9 for UCCS. The digs were nearly identical at 26-25 in favor of Western State and each team had three blocks. in the end, it was the set's length that gave UCCS the ultimate advantage as the Mountaineers ran out of subs with the score tied at 21. That put Western State in the unenviable position of having 5-foot-5 defensive specialist Sabret Cafasso stuck on the front row with her team leading 24-22.
Seeing the advantage, Bathelt set Pederson and Andrea Brodie against Cafasso for kills. The scrappy Mountaineers fought off four set points before kills by Laura Brodie and Bathelt gave UCCS the win.
The Mountain Lions were leading 5-3 in the second set when Huson served up a brilliant 9-0 run that included two aces. The deficit was 15-7 when Johnson had three kills and Bathelt an ace to spark a seven-point UCCS run. The score was tied at 17, 19 and 20, but two more kills by Johnson and another ace by Bathelt closed the door.
During the set, UCCS' prolific middle blockers (Laura Brodie and Pederson) were neutralized, getting just one kill between them.
"Our serve receive wasn't off but they serving well," said Brodie. "It's hard to run the middles out of transition and they did a good job following us with the block."
That didn't continue in the third set as the UCCS middles accounted for three of the team's first four kills. With the score tied at nine, Kendall Utz served a four-point run. Later, with the Mountain Lions leading 20-15, Utz served another four-pointer as UCCS held on for a 25-20 decision.
"We took the energy back and closed them out in three," said Brodie.
The win was the sixth in the past seven matches for the Mountain Lions and their eighth straight at home. UCCS will hit the road for its next four.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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