Mountain Lions Eliminated in First Round of RMAC Playoffs
KEARNEY, Neb. - University of Colorado at Colorado Springs coach Keith Barnett's first trip to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference playoffs ended prematurely as the No. 4-seed Mountain Lions were beaten 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-19) by the fifth-seeded Colorado School of Mines Orediggers Thursday evening at the Health and Sports Center.
Andrea Brodie had 10 kills to lead the Mountain Lions, whose season ended with an 18-10 record.
Jenica Shippy added seven kills for UCCS, while Brodie and Kendall Utz each had 12 digs. Setter Cindy Bathelt had 27 assists.
Behind 11 blocks overall, including two solos and seven assisted by Kaity Edmiston, Mines held the Mountain Lions to a .092 hitting mark, their second-lowest of the season.
"Their defense stepped it up; they were picking up more balls than they did before," said UCCS senior Kim Pollard. "They blocked very well. They were up and ready for us and they read us very well."
Elizabeth Serra-Hsu led the Orediggers (22-9) with 13 kills, while Edmiston added 11. Libero Alese Madenwald had 16 digs and setter Emily Collett had 29 assists.
"No excuses. Mines handed it to us," said Barnett. "They played well."
It was a perplexing effort for a team that beat these same Orediggers twice during the regular season, each by a 3-1 score.
"We've owned that team all year," said Barnett, who said he was disappointed with his team's attitude Thursday. "We just didn't look like we really wanted it.
He also lamented the lack of UCCS fans in attendance. The Mountain Lions have regularly had a large contingent of fans on hand when they've played on the road this season.
"There were no fans; nobody wants to travel this far mid-week," said Barnett, making reference to the six-plus hour drive from Colorado Springs to Kearney. "We're used to having fans on the road."
One of the biggest issues, though, had nothing to do with who was on the court or in the stands, but rather who was sitting on the sidelines. Laura Brodie, the RMAC Freshman of the Year and, with Nicole Pederson, half of one of the RMAC's most formidable middle-blocker duos, was relegated to spectator because of an ankle injury suffered a week ago against Metro State.
Without Brodie's presence at the net, the Mountain Lions were exploited badly in the first set. Mines hit .290 and blocked four, while UCCS hit -.062 with just one block. Serra-Hsu and Jackie Stabell combined for nine of the Orediggers' 13 kills in the set.
With the score tied at two, Serra-Hsu put down a pair of aces to spark a 5-0 Oredigger run. A couple of points later, Stabell had two kills and assisted on a block during another 5-0 Mines run to make it 14-6. The lead had grown to 23-12 when the Mountain Lions began showing signs of life, scoring four straight, but it was far too little, far too late to save the set as Mines won 25-16.
The Orediggers rode the momentum of the blowout first set into the second, grabbing a quick 12-6 lead behind two kills and an ace by Serra-Hsu and three kills by Edmiston. The Mountain Lions finally answered, getting two kills and an assisted block by Andrea Brodie to cut the deficit to 12-10. Mines had made it 18-13 when UCCS constructed a 5-0 run to tie it up.
Two straight blocks started a 4-1 Mines rally, which was answered by two straight by UCCS, including Andrea Brodie's fifth kill of the set. The Orediggers closed set, and the 2-0 lead, with kills by Tara Schwein and Stabell.
UCCS managed to escape the early hole in the third set with five tie scores, the last at 16-all. From that point, Kim Pollard's kill was sandwiched by three for Mines on each end as the Orediggers went up 22-17. They went on to clinch the match with a 25-19 decision.
UCCS is now 2-6 all-time in the RMAC Tournament and 2-15 at the Health & Sports Center.
For Pollard and fellow seniors cassey Santucci and Lauren Orth, it was the final match of their collegiate careers.
"It's pretty surreal," said Pollard, who has played volleyball for the past 10 years, often year-round. "It probably hasn't hit me yet that I won't be going to practice on Monday."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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