Mountain Lions Complete Friday Sweep by Knocking Off California-Pennsylvania

By Doug Fitzgerald published September 3, 2010

BOCA RATON, Fla. - The Mountain Lions gave their fans a TGIF feeling.

Alex Nuttall led the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with 10 kills Friday evening as the Mountain Lions beat the California (Pa.) Vulcans 3-1 (25-23, 13-25, 25-12, 25-18) to complete a two-game sweep of the day's matches at the 2010 Lynn University Courtyard by Marriott Invitational.

It was the Mountain Lions' second win of the day (they beat Valdosta State Friday morning) as they improved to 2-1 on the young season while California dropped to 0-2.

"Today's been good; today's been really good," said UCCS coach Keith Barnett. "It's always good to get two wins under your belt whenever you can.

"We played well against Lewis (on Thursday) - we had our chances and I think we learned a lot from that game, in particular how to finish. We did that tonight."

And that finish came against a very good team, despite the Vulcan's misleading 0-2 season start. California, which was ranked No. 26 nationally in the preseason poll, has won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and the Atlantic Region three straight seasons and hasn't lost a conference match over that period. In 2009, the Vulcans went 36-6 and advanced to the NCAA Elite 8.

But Friday, it was UCCS that looked elite. Kendall Utz and Nikki Kinzer led the defense that held California to a .095 hitting mark with Utz getting 23 digs and Kinzer adding two solo and two assisted blocks. Kinzer also had three service aces, while Sonja Johnson had nine kills and Jenica Shippy and Nicole Pederson each had seven.

UCCS led by as many as seven in the first set, taking a 17-10 lead on a Jenica Shippy kill, but the Vulcans roared back to tie it at 22. The Mountain Lions held on to take the set 25-23 as Shippy got the third of her three kills in the frame and the UCCS defense forced two hitting miscues.

The next two sets were like a Rorschach test - exact opposites - with the two sides taking turns grabbing lopsided decisions. An eight-point run early in the second set allowed California to take a commanding 13-4 lead. The Mountain Lions couldn't put together a rally of any significance as the Vulcans rolled to a 25-13 decision.

An early substitution error created some confusion and UCCS didn't recover.

"The second game, there was an error by Skylar (Lewandowski) - a substitution error - and it kind of snowballed from there," said Barnett. "Kudos to them, they picked up on it and set right over her. From there, we didn't know what to do; we were out of rotation.

"We said 'let's throw that game out the window and come back stronger and harder,' and we did."

With a vengeance. Two kills, an assist and a block by Alex Nuttall helped spot UCCS to a 7-2 lead in Set 3. Shortly afterward, a four-point Vulcan run was promptly answered as the Mountain Lions scored six straight to make it 17-8. UCCS took the set 25-12 as Nuttall had five kills and Sonja Johnson four.

After two early runs broke open Sets 2 and 3, the fourth was more, uh, conventional. The teams traded points early on, with five ties leading to a 10-all deadlock. The Mountain Lions mounted a three-point run behind an ace by Skylar Lewandowski and a kill by Nikki Kinzer. After a Vulcan point, UCCS scored another four straight to take a 17-11 lead. California clawed back to within two at 18-16, but the Mountain Lions closed strong to take the set 25-18 and the match.

"Except for the second game, we played great," said Barnett. "We know we want to be where (the Vulcans) are. Maybe we got a little closer to that tonight."

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Jenica ShippyJenica Shippy9OH
Jenica ShippyJenica Shippy9OH
Jenica ShippyJenica Shippy9OH
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSFr
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSSo
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSJr
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSSr
Kendall UtzKendall Utz8L
Kendall UtzKendall Utz8L
Nicole PedersonNicole Pederson15MB
Nicole PedersonNicole Pederson15MB
Nikki KinzerNikki Kinzer2MBSr
Nikki KinzerNikki Kinzer2MB
Nikki KinzerNikki Kinzer2MB
Skylar LewandowskiSkylar Lewandowski11DS/L
Skylar LewandowskiSkylar Lewandowski11DS/L
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