Women’s volleyball looks to bounce back following 2020 campaign

Paul Czarnecki 

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     With the start of the fall semester, the UCCS women’s volleyball team has a chance to get back to a full season after last year’s season was shortened due to COVID-19.  

     Following a 4-10 2020 campaign, the Mountain Lions will have the opportunity to begin their season on Sept. 3 with a big match in Topeka, Kansas against eight-ranked Washburn University, the host team for this year’s invitational tournament. 

     UCCS is also ranked eighth in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference based on the preseason poll, where they scored 93 points and tied with Western Colorado’s Mountaineers for the spot. Defending league champion Colorado Mesa University received 182 total votes and is the favorite to win the league. 

     Last season, Colorado Mesa defeated UCCS in the conference tournament as the 2 seed, where the Mountain Lions were able to move up to the 8 seed following COVID-19 testing and protocol issues with another RMAC team who qualified. 

     The Mountain Lions will be headlined by redshirt junior and star outside hitter Lauren Shockley, who led UCCS with 164 kills and 170 points in 14 total matches; she ranked seventh in both statistical categories. 

     Turning to the defensive side of the game, fellow junior Jordyn Kinsey led the team with 205 digs, good enough for sixth in the league. Kinsey has additionally earned RMAC All-Academic team honors three times in her college career. 

     Another player to look at this season is sophomore setter Emily Ettel, who managed to complete 493 assists in 2020, the sixth-most in the RMAC.  

     It is worth noting that all three players were named to the RMAC’s Players to Watch this season, as they look to move towards a winning season soon. 

     The Mountain Lions have been led by head coach Chrissy Elder for nine years, leading them to seven consecutive appearances in the RMAC tournament. 

     Elder recently locked up her 100th career victory just a year ago, with a 3-2 victory over Colorado Christian University in 2019. 

     The volleyball squad also helped to make history earlier in the month, as eight members of the team aided in breaking the Division 2 Athletics Directors Association Academic Achievement Award, where a record 126 student athletes received such honors. 

     “I am so proud that UCCS student-athletes continue to lead and accomplish in the classroom,” said Executive Director of Athletics Nathan Gibson. “This award honors the top students in the country and to have 126 accomplish this is outstanding. Congratulations to all of the recipients!” 

     After the Washburn Invitational, the Mountain Lions will officially open their season with the Mountain Lion Classic, held from Sept. 10-11, at the Gallogly Events Center. 

Photo courtesy of gomountianlions.com