UCCS Defeats New Mexico Highlands in Four Sets
COLORADO SPRINGS - Nikki Kinzer had 17 kills and 10 blocks, both match highs, the lead the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a 3-1 (25-18, 25-23, 24-26, 25-17) victory over the New Mexico Highlands Cowgirls Saturday evening at the Gallogly Events Center.
Two nights after setting a new UCCS school record (since at least 2000) for total blocks in a match (12), Kinzer set a new record for assisted blocks in a match (10).
"Nikki is so fun the play with at the net because she's really talkative and she lets you know what's going on," said UCCS junior Alex Nuttall. "She's really aware of the play, so it makes sense that she would have so many blocks; she just knows what's going on over on the other side of the court."
Nuttall had nine kills and a team-best 16 digs. She has led the Mountain Lions in digs in each of the past two matches.
"When the block is solid - when Nikki's getting so many blocks - teams start tipping because they don't want to get blocked," said Nuttall. "That makes it easy as a defender to know that I have to come forward because I know the ball is going to be tipped."
UCCS setter Lindsey Stich assisted on nine of those blocks and also had 45 assists. Nicole Pederson added 13 kills.
The Mountain Lions improved to 8-4 overall and 2-1 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play. New Mexico Highlands slipped to 3-8, 0-3 in the RMAC.
UCCS raced to an 11-1 lead in the first set with Kendall Utz and Skylar Lewandowski serving. The Mountain Lions registered three of their 14 blocks during that run. The Cowgirls managed to close to within four during the set, the last time at 21-17, but UCCS closed with a 4-1 run. Pederson had five of her kills in the opening frame.
Eight ties highlighted a second set in which neither team led by more than three. The set ended on the last of Kinzer's six kills.
Highlands put on an impressive third-set performance, particularly considering its weekend travel schedule. The Cowgirls traveled to Kearney, Neb., then to Chadron, Neb. and finally to Colorado Springs. That's a trip of 1,403 miles on a bus with matches at the end of each leg.
Despite the road weariness, Highlands got six kills in as many attempts from Sarah Dirmeyer to prevent the sweep with a 26-24 win.
"We played really bad at times," said Barnett. "At the end of Game 3, we played two out balls that were clearly out and then we had campfire covering where we had people saying 'go' and nobody going. Without those plays, I think that we finish the match in three."
The Mountain Lions eliminated those problems and started the fourth set with an 11-3 lead. They were never threatened, leading by seven or more the entire way.
"After losing a set, the ability to come back and win was really good," said Barnett. "You've got to close them out.
"We had opportunities to finish it in three and didn't so, great, refocus and go again."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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