Mountain Lions Streak their Way to Win over Western State

By Doug Fitzgerald published October 16, 2010

GUNNISON - Things have gotten a bit trendy concerning the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs volleyball program.

The Mountain Lions kept a number of perplexing streaks alive as they defeated the Western State Mountaineers 3-1 (29-31, 25-17, 25-19, 25-17) Saturday evening at Paul Wright Gymnasium.

Stats people love trends. Players and coaches are less impressed.

"I don't know what to tell you," said junior Alex Nuttall when confronted with the numbers. "That's kind of interesting."

Nonetheless, the list is pretty cool. Over UCCS' three-match road trip (Thursday at CSU-Pueblo, Friday at Adams State and Saturday at Western State), the Mountain Lions did not win a first set. During the recent road swing, UCCS also has not lost a second set. Finally, in all three matches the winner of the third set has ultimately won.

Add to those a couple others. The Mountain Lions have now won seven straight against Western State, with the Mountaineers last win in the series coming on Sept. 10, 2004. Also, UCCS has won only one 3-0 sweep in RMAC play so far this season, the fewest of any team other than Chadron State or New Mexico Highlands. Of course, neither of those teams has more than one conference win.

Nuttall led the Mountain Lions (12-9, 6-6 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) with 16 kills and 21 digs. The junior from Parker said she tried to hit around the block less, instead trying to force errors by the blockers.

"In recent games, I've been trying to do too much and losing sight of what I do best which is tooling off the block and getting stops on defense to dig balls," said Nuttall. "This game I came in with the mentality that I'm going to tool off the block as much as I could and take the swing that I was given."

Nikki Kinzer added 12 kills and Sonja Johnson 10 for UCCS, while Kendall Utz had 20 digs. Lindsay Stich, starting at setter for the injured Cindy Bathelt, had 51 assists and 17 digs.

Lindsay Huson led Western State (9-10, 4-8 RMAC) with 13 kills.

The first set was a back-and-forth affair that featured 14 tie scores. UCCS fought off four set points and Western State two before kills by Jamie Hamsa and Huson put it away at 31-29. That duo accounted for five and eight kills in the set respectively to lead the Mountaineers, while Nuttall's six kills led UCCS.

Having kept the first-set trend intact, UCCS went to work on the next one. Leading 11-9, a sinking Stich serve put Western State on the defensive, allowing a high-quality attack for UCCS that Kinzer converted into a kill. On the next point, Stich kept what would have been a Mountaineer point alive, which turned into another Kinzer kill. Stich, a sophomore from San Antonio, Texas, added a service ace and freshman Skylar Lewandowski, a defensive specialist, registered her first career kill to complete the 4-0 run and put the Mountain Lions up 15-9. UCCS cruised from that point to the 25-17 win.

"It shows that we're a little bit slow to start but, come second game, we're ready to fight and to work hard," said Nuttall.

"We made some small adjustments and were able to expose some flaws," added UCCS coach Keith Barnett.

Having gotten the first- and second-set trends out of the way, UCCS took control in the pivotal third frame. There had already seen six ties by the time it got to 8-8 when UCCS assembled a 7-1 run behind two kills by Johnson and some more accurate serves by Stich. The Mountaineers managed to within two at 19-17, but the Mountain Lions, behind two kills and a block by Nicole Pederson, closed with 6-2 run.

The Mountain Lions trailed 9-7 in the fourth set but had a run of five straight and three of three straight to close 18-8.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSSo
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSFr
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSSr
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSJr
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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