White shirts flooded the Gallogly Events Center last Friday night as the UCCS Mountain Lions women’s volleyball team enjoyed a well-deserved win in four sets, 3-1, against the Black Hills State Yellow Jackets.
After a dominant start, the Mountain Lions cleanly took the first two sets. However, a revitalized performance by the Yellow Jackets led to them stealing the third set. While this provided some turbulence for UCCS, it was quickly smoothed out, as they managed to grab the fourth set and win the match, their second in RMAC play in 2023.
The opening set provided some initial challenges for head coach Tara Hittle’s Mountain Lions as BHSU led 13-10 at the first time-out. The crowd aided in pushing the Mountain Lions to dominate and take the first set, 25-16, after a number of straight aces by graduate student Lauryn Shockley and consecutive kills by freshman Sydnee Walker.
Shockley categorized this start to the game as a “great performance,” by the team in a post-match interview.
The second set cemented the Mountain Lion’s early dominance within the game. After working to a 7-7 tie, the Mountain Lions broke away with a 9-0 winning run started from a kill by senior middle blocker Nicole Medlin. While the technical and tactical ability of the Mountain Lions shone brightly during the set, the Yellow Jackets helped the Mountain Lions to secure the second set by committing four errors during UCCS’ winning spree.
However, the third set provided some turbulence for the Mountain Lions, threatening their set after a resurgent performance by the Yellow Jackets, who battled back to steal the third set, 25-21.
Despite this period of fragility, the Mountain Lions were able to reconnect and win the fourth set and, consequently, the match, 3-1. Shockley expressed how switching up the gameplan gave the Mountain Lions a competitive boost.
“During the downs … we went back to the basics,” she said. She continues to say that this was achieved through “[This was achieved through] staying connected and making eye contact with each other, as it kind of felt disconnected.” The Mountain Lions’ ability to overcome this hurdle demonstrates their resilience and eagerness to win during the remainder of the season.
The student section of support produced a great atmosphere throughout the whole game, possibly mirroring the recent incredible turn-out for the University of Nebraska women’s volleyball team (92,003).
This win allows UCCS to build on their all-time series record of 13-3 against BHSU and continues their winning streak of three games against them.
The Mountain Lions will face New Mexico Highlands University away next Friday in Las Vegas, N.M. on Sept. 22 to continue their season. Shockley says that this win against BHSU will “help the team’s confidence,” and that the team in optimistic they can walk away with the win as they look to win their first away game in the RMAC.
#6 Sydnee Walker and #17 Clara Benskin blocking the ball against Black Hills State University on Sept. 15. Photo by Kira Thorne.