No. 5 Lopers Too Much for UCCS
COLORADO SPRINGS - Behind a powerful attack that forged a .345 hitting mark, the No. 5-ranked Nebraska-Kearney Lopers ended the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' winning streak at nine with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-22) victory Friday evening at the Lions' Den.
It was the second-highest hitting mark managed against the stingy Mountain Lion defense this season, behind only the .436 mark posted by these same Lopers on Sept. 12 at Kearney. The best hitting mark against UCCS posted by a team NOT named after an ungulate mammal native to North America was .251 posted by Metro State on Sept. 19.
"To have so many All-Americans, so much talent and so much strength all the way around makes them tough to play against," said UCCS coach Keith Barnett about the Lopers.
The Mountain Lions hit just .136 in the match, their lowest mark since hitting .096 against Mesa State on Oct. 2. That Mesa State match was also the last time UCCS lost.
Also ending was UCCS' string of nine straight home wins.
But all that acknowledged, Barnett was anything but unhappy with his team's effort.
"I was very, very happy with what we did tonight," he said. 'We played hard; we played strong. We scored 33 points the last time we played them. This time it was 57. It was at least twice the effort.
"We had better preparation from my side and better execution from the girls."
UCCS slipped to 17-8 overall and 12-5 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The implications to the playoff picture won't be known until Saturday night since most RMAC teams are playing a Friday-Saturday schedule this week.
Nebraska-Kearney, which has already locked up the No. 1 seed in the RMAC playoffs and has dropped only three sets in conference play, improved to 27-1, 16-0 in the RMAC.
Sonja Johnson and Jenica Shippy led UCCS with seven kills each. Andrea Brodie, Laura Brodie and Nicole Pederson each added five. Kendall Utz led the defense with 11 digs, while setter Cindy Bathelt had 26 assists and three service aces.
Erica Burson led Nebraska-Kearney with 13 kills with Jeri Walkowiak and Nikki Scott adding 12 and 10 respectively. Cola Svec had 43 assists, nine digs and five kills.
The Mountain Lions led 18-16 in the first set, but a 7-0 UNK run with two kills each by Walkowiak and Chelsie Carson wrested away the opportunity. That was followed by a dominant second set in which the Lopers hit a phenomenal .517.
UCCS led a back-and-forth third set 19-18 when two Burson kills sparked a three-point Loper run. A Shippy kill cut the deficit to 21-20, but Scott put down back-to-back kills to make it 23-20. Kills by Laura Brodie and Johnson were answered in turn by a Scott/Svec block and yet another Scott kill as the Lopers completed the sweep.
In its 16 RMAC matches, Nebraska-Kearney has dropped only three sets.
Despite the Lopers' dominance, Barnett believes his team will not be overmatched should the teams meet again in the RMAC playoffs.
"We had opportunities where we know what they're going to do, they do it and we're still not there," he said. "We've seen it, prepared for it, we're ready for it and we're still not there.
"It's just a question of mental focus."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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