Blast-from-the-Past Crockett Leads UCCS to Win Over Colorado Christian
COLORADO SPRINGS - The Mountain Lions went back to the future to put themselves in the driver's seat to earn a spot in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference playoffs.
But this was no DeLorean. It was Molly Crockett with 19 kills and 13 digs that lifted the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a come-from-behind 3-2 (14-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-16, 15-13) victory over the Colorado Christian Cougars Friday evening at the Gallogly Events Center.
The win improved the Mountain Lions' record to 15-10 overall and 9-7 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. It also put them a half game ahead on Colorado Christian and Fort Lewis as the three teams vie for the final two berths in the RMAC postseason tournament. In addition, UCCS owns the tiebreaker against both.
Now rewind to 2008. Crockett, then a freshman, led the Mountain Lions with 287 kills and 28 service aces and was second on the team with 322 digs. She left UCCS for the 2009 season to study electrical engineering at Colorado's Boulder campus. Homesick and missing the sport that had always been such a big part of her life, she came back to UCCS for the Fall, 2010 semester.
But her KO of Biff was delayed by injury.
"I had a piece of bone that was stuck between my heel and my Achilles tendon," said Crockett. "It took three or four weeks for me to start walking again. It's taken a long time to get my jump back and not playing for two months is really hard to come back from."
She saw little appreciable playing time, registering double-digit kills only once and double-digit attempts just twice. On Friday, she came in late in the first set before putting down five kills in the second and eight in the third.
"I'm so excited to be out there again," she said. "It was so much fun to be out there with the girls again."
The girls had fun, too. Nikki Kinzer had 10 kills, while Sonja Johnson and Alex Nuttall each had nine and Nicole Pederson eight. Kendall Utz led the team with 14 digs and Lindsey Stich handed out 50 assists.
But the evening wasn't much fun for anybody wearing black and gold for the first two sets. UCCS had just five kills and hit a woeful -.185 in dropping the first set 25-14. That mark was better at .121 in the second, but not enough to prevent a 25-21 loss and an 0-2 deficit in sets.
"I think they like to play with my emotions and the crowd's emotions," said UCCS coach Keith Barnett, only half-jokingly. "Somehow, we figure it out in the end."
That being the case, it was when they were down 12-10 in the third set that the Mountain Lions figured it out. It was then that UCCS put together a 7-2 run that featured two assisted blocks and two kills by Pederson. The first of those kills was a violent smash that caught Colorado Christian's Andi Weber square in the face, forcing the Cougars to take a timeout.
"Nicole had a huge swing on an overpass," said Barnett. "It galvanized our team."
UCCS maintained the gap at two or more the rest of the set, staying alive with a 25-22 decision.
Crockett opened the fourth set with a kill and closed it with a solo block as UCCS forced the deciding fifth set with a 25-16 win. Crockett had three of her eight kills in the set during her team's 11-3 run to close it out.
Back-to-back kills by Nuttall gave UCCS its biggest lead of the fifth set at 12-8. The Cougars closed to within one at 13-12, but an assisted block by Pederson and Stich regained the two-point edge. After the last of Erica Brown's match-best 21 kills made it 14-13, Pederson slammed home the winning point.
"It's been taking us a while to get into the games but, when we finally figure out what we're doing, we have this aggression about us," said Crockett, who had her own cheering section among the students chanting Mol-ly, Mol-ly with every kill.
It was a coming-out party for Crockett. Or, more accurately, a coming-back party.
"I'm sooo glad to be back," she said.
For Mountain Lions fans, the feeling is mutual.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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