MSU Denver volleyball pulled out a close four-set victory at Colorado Christian University Sept. 22.
The Roadrunners’ win over the Cougars was hard fought, as they worked to overcome some questionable calls by the referees the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is using during the lockout of conference volleyball officials.
“You know we are going to have a little bit of a struggle with the officiating all year, because these are replacement officials and we got to live with it,” head coach Debbie Hendricks said. “I think that the officials that don’t have as much experience will get better through the year and we’re all on the same playing field in that regard.”
Despite the struggle with officiating, the Roadrunners jumped out to a good start in the first set with a comfortable 14-7 lead. The women fought hard to gain the lead only to see the Cougars come back to tie it at 17. Freshman outside hitter Kylie Haun stomped out the Cougars run with a big spike to get the momentum back for her team. The Roadrunners won the set 25-21.
The second set was a struggle for the lady Roadrunners as the Cougars came out strong jumping out to a 14-9 lead that the Roadrunners would never find a way to catch up to, losing the set 25-21. The lady Runners actually had a decent set as they posted a good .360 hitting percentage to the Cougars’ .257. The problems stemmed from their inability to get consistent blocks.
“Blocking, we were kind of hit and miss. I think early on we weren’t finishing up top. We got pushed through and lost our hitters up top,” Hendricks said.
The third set was a defining moment for the night as the Roadrunners found a way to win. The women came out slow, letting CCU jump out to an early 11-7 lead. It was back and forth the whole set, with MSU Denver never finding a way to take the lead until there was a nice block by sophomore setter Betty Van Lith and junior middle blocker Daleah Whitaker. The match was put away with a huge spike by junior outside hitter Alyssa Heath, who ended up with a new career high with 19 kills, after setting it the night before with 17 kills. She also got in on four blocks. The Roadrunners won on that point 25-22.
“We had a great pass, and Betty, our setter at the time set an amazing ball and I just hit it. It felt awesome,” said Heath about her set-winning spike.
The Cougars were not about to give up, as the final set was much like the first three where it was back and forth the whole game. The Roadrunners would eventually put the Cougars away in a 25-22 win.
Despite the close scores in the sets, the Roadrunners were confident in their ability as a team and what they do best. The team made little to no adjustments throughout the game.
“For the most part we just stuck with the game plan. We changed our block up a little bit for a couple of the hitters,” said Haun, who had 11 kills on the day.
“I definitely think we can start playing more consistently and I know coach is going to make practices a lot harder and she is going to get tough on us.”
The Roadrunners suffered a disappointing loss Sept. 21 to Colorado School of Mines. MSU Denver lost in four sets to the No. 23 Orediggers, 13-25, 25-20, 22-25, and 23-25.
The lady ’Runners once again struggled with keeping their errors low on the game as the team came away with 25 total—11 from service errors.
“Too many unforced errors. We have struggled all season to keep our errors low. We have done a good job when at home, but we need to really clean up the errors on the road,” Hendricks said.
Heath led the way with 17 kills, followed by Haun with 12 and sophomore right sider Lauren Quijano with 11. Senior setter Vanessa Gemignani led the way in assists once again with 42. Junior defensive specialist Alex Green came away with 15 digs and Amy Wong came away with 11.
The Roadrunners are now 8-4 on the season and hold a 3-1 RMAC record.