Playoff Loss to Mesa State Ends Mountain Lions' Season

By Doug Fitzgerald published November 11, 2010

COLORADO SPRINGS - Alex Nuttall and Nikki Kinzer of the University of KEARNEY, Neb. - The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' foray into the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference postseason tournament ended with its first match, a 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-19) loss to the No. 2 seeded Mesa State Mavericks Thursday at the health & Sports Center.

The No. 7 seeded Mountain Lions got 13 kills and 10 digs by Alex Nuttall and eight kills by Nikki Kinzer. Senior libero Kendall Utz finished her collegiate career by recording a team-best 11 digs, while UCCS' other senior, Nicole Pederson, had seven kills and four assisted blocks.

Sarah Kemp and Antoinette McCormick each had 11 kills for Mesa State (20-8). Whitney Howard has a match-high 20 digs and Tara King had 45 assists, 10 digs and five kills.

The Mountain Lions finished their season with a 16-13 record.

UCCS committed 17 hitting errors, 18 of which were unforced, to finish with a dismal .079 hitting mark. Mesa State had 23 errors of its own, but salvaged a .204 mark.

Nerves looked to be an issue for Mesa State early as five of UCCS' first seven points came by way of Maverick errors (two hitting, two service and one ball handling). Mesa overcame the jitters to take a 13-10 lead behind two kills each by Antoinette McCormick and Sarah Kemp. The lead was 16-14 when UCCS assembled a 5-2 run, which included two kills by Molly Crockett, to take its first lead since early in the set.

A Mesa State service error and a block by Pederson and Nuttall gave the Mountain Lions a 22-20 lead. Kills by Nuttall, Jenica Shippy and Pederson concluded the tight, 25-23 set win.

An 8-1 run built around three kills by Meagan Bosch and two aces by Kemp blew open the second set as Mesa State took an 18-10 lead. UCCS couldn't close the gap, dropping the set 25-17 and evening the match at 1-all.

Two aces by Whitney Howard sparked a seven-point run that put the Mavericks up 7-2 in the third set. The deficit grew to 9-3 and was sitting at 13-7 when UCCS found some life. Pederson and setter Lindsey Stich each notched kills and the pair shared a block to slice the gap to three. Shortly afterward, a 5-0 run that included a kill and two assisted blocks by Kinzer put UCCS ahead 17-16.

Mesa State answered decisively with a 7-2 run that included two kills and an assisted block by McCormick. The 25-20 set loss gave Mesa State a 2-1 lead.

The Mavericks jumped to a 7-1 lead in the fourth set during which UCCS' only [point came by way of a service error. Trailing 10-3, the Mountain Lions came back with kills by Shippy, Pederson and Sonja Johnson and an ace by Utz to close to 12-8. Mesa State stomped the rally with a six-point run to go up 18-8.

But UCCS had been a resilient team all season and found a final burst. Two kills and an assisted block by Kinzer sparked a 6-0 run to make it 18-14, which was then cut to three at 19-16.

That was as close as the Mountain Lions would get. The Mavericks ran off five straight to put the match within a point of conclusion. UCCS fought off match point three times with two Nuttall Kills and a block by Nuttall and Pederson, but couldn't fend off a fourth as Mesa State took the set 25-19 and the match 3-1.

Through a quirk in the RMAC scheduling for the 2010 season, UCCS and Mesa State hadn't previously played each other this season. Each RMAC team played the teams in its own division twice and six of the seven teams in the other division for a total of 18 RMAC matches. In previous years there was no such omission and teams played 19 conference matches.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Nicole PedersonNicole Pederson15MB
Nicole PedersonNicole Pederson15MB
Jenica ShippyJenica Shippy9OH
Jenica ShippyJenica Shippy9OH
Jenica ShippyJenica Shippy9OH
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSSr
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSJr
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSSo
Alex WoodAlex Wood13RSFr
Kendall UtzKendall Utz8L
Kendall UtzKendall Utz8L
Nikki KinzerNikki Kinzer2MBSr
Nikki KinzerNikki Kinzer2MB
Nikki KinzerNikki Kinzer2MB
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