Western New Mexico's big two puts end to UCCS win streak
COLORADO SPRINGS - Despite 17 kills by Nikki Kinzer, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' five-match winning streak came to an end Friday as the Mountain Lions were beaten 3-1 (29-27, 13-25, 25-23, 29-27) by the Western New Mexico Mustangs at the Gallogly Events Center.
Western New Mexico's big two of Angelina Pulu and Natali Murdock did most of the damage with 20 and 18 kills respectively. Pulu came into Friday's match averaging 3.58 kills per set while Murdock was leading the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference with 4.25 kills per set. For each those averages will climb.
Terra Strain now 2-0 as Western New Mexico's temporary coach. Strain is replacing Jim Callender, who did not make the trip for health reasons. The Mustangs beat Chadron State 3-0 on Thursday.
After dropping a back-and-forth first set Friday, the Mountain Lions looked to have found their rhythm with a 25-13 win in the second. Alex Nuttall had six kills on just seven attacks in the set.
Neither team led by more than three a the third set that was tied 13 times. The Mustangs got kills from setter Alyssa Meihack, Pulu and Ziona Verhulsdonk to pull away at the end.
WNMU (4-3, 2-0 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) pulled out to a 15-9 advantage in the fourth set, but UCCS rallied for five straight to cut it to one. The Mountain Lions finally pulled even for the first time since 3-3 when an Erika Cushnie kill made it 23-all. A kinzer kill put UCCS within a point of evening the match at two sets apiece, but a Murdock kill and a Verhulsdonk/Jordan Johnston block turned the advantage to WNMU. The Mountain Lions turned away the first match point to tie it at 27 but, fittingly, Murdock and Pulu scored kills to wrap up the win.
Johnston participated in five (one solo and four assisted) of WNMU's 11 blocks. Kassie Kagawa led the Mustangs with 23 digs and Meihack had 47 assists to lead them to a .164 to .143 hitting edge.
Alex Nuttall had 13 kills and a match-high 27 digs for UCCS, which slipped to 7-4, 1-1 in the RMAC. Sonja Johnson added 12 kills.
The Mountain Lions will play their third match in as many nights when they face New Mexico Highlands on Saturday.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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