The No. 2 seed Grizzlies made quick work of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) West Division three seed Colorado State-Pueblo Tuesday, topping the ThunderWolves 25-23, 25-20, 25-20 at Plachy Hall as Adams State played its way into the league semifinals where the nationally sixth-ranked Nebraska-Kearney Lopers will be the opponent on Friday.
The win was Adams State’s third over the ThunderWolves this season, but the first in which the Grizzlies have not dropped a set. The Grizzlies earned their 19th win of the season on Tuesday night, their highest winning total since the 2003 season, while CSU-Pueblo’s season comes to an end with a 15-13 overall mark.
All four RMAC Quarterfinal matches were won in three sets as the RMAC West top-seeded Western New Mexico Mustangs dismissed of New Mexico Highlands in three sets.
In the RMAC East, the Lopers swept Regis while No. 2 seed and 11th-ranked Metro State did the same to Colorado Mines.
But the Grizzlies first home playoff match and win in the program’s DII era wasn’t the only history made at Plachy Hall on Tuesday. Senior liebro AJ Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) recorded 11 digs in the match, raising her career mark to 1,552, a DII era record, four more than Jennifer Owen’s prior mark.
ASC hit at a .248 clip in the match, compared to .179 for the ThunderWolves who made 19 errors.
After leading 14-10 in the first set, Adams State fell behind by one, 21-22, late in the set following one of six service errors in the match. But a kill from sophomore Deprece Washington (Johnstown, Colo.) followed up by a CSU-P error put the Grizzlies back on top, and three points later a Megan Tapia (Pueblo, Colo.) and Mikaela Hoelsken (Johnstown, Colo.) block gave the Grizzlies a win in the tightest set of the night.
Junior Dominique Davis (Denver, Colo.) sealed the second set for the Grizzlies, recording kills on four of the final five points, part of her match-high 17 kill effort.
Tapia had 10 kills for ASC, and hit a team-best .429 clip, making just one error on 21 attempts.
Bernadette Pitre led the ThunderWolves with 10 kills and hit a .471 clip in the match, while April Gonzales and Alea Wildman each tacked on another nine kills.
Sophomore Gabriella Rifilato (Bayfield, Colo.) was good for 34 assists in the match, but went without a service ace in the match for just the fourth time this season as ASC’s two aces as a team was its second lowest of the season.
The Grizzlies outblocked CSU-P 8-6, led by two solos and an assisted block from senior Crissy Skokan (Manitou Springs, Colo.). Hoelsken and Tapia each added three total blocks as well.
Adams State returns to action on Friday against top-seed and defending RMAC Volleyball Tournament Champion Nebraska-Kearney. The Lopers are 30-1 this season after winning their quarterfinal match-up and racked up a 17-1 record in RMAC play this season. UNK has won 17 straight since losing their lone match of the season, 3-1, to Colorado Mines on Sept. 23, and has lost just four sets in that span.
On Sept. 17 the Grizzlies fell 15-25, 25-16, 17-25, 18-25 to UNK at home, and were led by 14 kills from Davis.
Friday’s match between Adams State and the Lopers will start at 7:30 p.m. following the other semifinal match between Metro State and Western New Mexico, which will start at 5 p.m.
Grizzly fans unable to make the trip to Kearney to follow the action can stay up-to-date via live stats or by catching a video broadcast at from substription-based America One. A live radio broadcast will also be made available at www.kspk.com (104.1 FM in Alamosa).