Mountain Lions win third straight at Hyatt Place Invitational
COLORADO SPRINGS - Middle blockers Nikki Kinzer and Nichole Pederson combined for 31 kills to lead the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a 3-2 victory over the Lees McRae Bobcats Saturday afternoon and keep the Mountain Lions unbeaten at the Hyatt Place Mountain Lion Classic.
Kinzer had 16 kills and Pederson 15 as UCCS improved to 3-0 for the tournament and 5-3 on the season. Pederson recorded the final three kills in the fifth set to put the match away.
"I really messed it up in Game 2 and Game 3 and so coach kind of got on my butt," said Pederson. "I came back a little angry and frustrated. I wanted to kill the ball and win the stinkin' game and get it over with."
A win over Grand Canyon in the 7 p.m. match would make the Mountain Lions the tournament champion.
Alex Nuttall continued to stand out for the Mountain Lions, logging a team-best 26 digs and five service aces to go along with her 10 kills and five assists. In the three matches UCCS has played during the tournament, Nuttall, a junior who played sparingly inher first two seasons at UCCS, has posted 64 digs, 22 kills, 14 assists and seven service aces.
"Alex has been dominating this weekend," said Pederson. "I'm so proud of her."
She's also proud of Jenica Shippy, who added 11 kills and Lindsey Stich, who had 52 assists, 12 digs and seven kills.
"Everyone played really well as a team this time around," said Pederson.
Megan Epperson and Whitney Justice led Lees McRae (3-5) with 19 and 18 kills respectively. Libero Dana Oliver had a match-high 30 digs.
UCCS led 22-14 in each of the first two sets only to allow late Bobcat rallies. The Mountain Lions weathered the first, winning 25-21, but collapsed in the second to drop a 30-28 decision.
Lees McRae rode that momentum to win a back-and-forth 25-23 third set that featured 12 ties.
Two aces by Nuttall helped UCCS race to a 12-6 lead in the fourth set. The Bobcats never got closer than four the rest of the way as the Mountain Lions took the set 25-20.
The fifth set was tied at two when Nuttall went to the service line. When she left, UCCS led 9.3. The Mountain Lions held on to take the set 15-8 and the match.
"We've been kind of an up-and-down team; we still need to find our balance," said Pederson. "We have really high highs and really low lows. We're trying to find a medium, an in-between, and stop being the roller-coaster team."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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