|Posted November 3, 2007|
Pack closes bittersweet season in style
GUNNISON, Colo. - The ThunderWolves haven't won a game on
Saturday night all season long. They also haven't shown the
tenacity to consistently pull out close games. Saturday, with the
season coming to an end, the Pack showed they could do both,
pulling out a victory in five games over Western State College,
25-30, 30-18, 27-30, 32-30 and 15-12, in what turned out to be a
Senior libero Jenna Garcia had her best games of her career in her final match, posting a school single-game record for digs with 32, while Caitlyn Jewell put together the best game of her career, equaling a school record for kills in a five-game match with 26, boasting an absolutely stellar .486 attack percentage, also a career high. Sophomore Taren Frazier also had a banner night, recording 21 kills, the second highest mark of her career, to finish second on the team in kills.
Senior Lindsey Wilson also closed out her career in style with a fabulous all-around night, recording 19 kills, her second highest mark of the season, joined by 17 digs.
Other records equaled or nearly broken included team assists in a five-game match (81), equaling the previous record, and kills in a five-game match (87), one short of the school mark 88. Setter Katie Lauridsen nearly became a record-breaker, as well, logging 73 assists, three away from Staci Derr's record, set in 1997.
All the individual exploits aside, it was the Pack's ability to step up in the match's final two games that made the difference, showing they could pull out the close ones. Early on, it was a different story.
In the first and third games, the Pack couldn't manage turn close games to their advantage. In game one, the ThunderWolves were within three points for most of the game, getting as close as 23-21 before the Mountaineers converted seven of the 10 final points to post a 30-25 victory.
In game three, the ThunderWolves saw a 27-25 lead tumble away, chiefly at the hands of the Mountaineers' top attacker, Erin Osleson, who recorded three kills in Western State's final five points as they came back to record a 30-27 victory.
Throughout the season, the ThunderWolves have let matches get away from them when they were down 2-1, but Saturday, they turned history on their ear. The ThunderWolves had their minds made up that they weren't going to let this close match get away from them.
"After the third game, we felt the game slipping away," Pack coach Chris Jonson said. "But we had to focus on continuing to do the things that had been successful. We had a renewed focus on our fundamentals and our footwork, and paid extra close attention to that, and we responded."
In a game four that never saw each team open up an advantage of more than three points, the ThunderWolves stayed close throughout, seizing control at the end by converting three straight points, two on kills by Jewell, to claim a 32-30 victory.
In the deciding game five, it was a late rally in a virtually even game that spurred the Pack ahead, scoring six of the final eight points to take an exciting 15-12 victory and the match.
"We saw a big change in the momentum of the game [in the fourth and fifth games], and there was a strong willingness to fight on our part," Jonson said. "We got fired up and we were able to come through."
The Pack closes its season with a 7-20 record, and a 5-14 record in conference play. Jonson said that despite the record, what he saw Saturday really showed what the Pack had been capable of doing all season long.
"I never thought I'd be so proud of a 7-20 team," Jonson said. "We know how to play and we're a good team, but I'm really proud of the way they played and the improvement we've shown. It definitely showed there's a lot of hope for this team."