LAKEWOOD, Colo. - In battle Thursday where the loser would be stuck in the RMAC basement, the ThunderWolves held off an advance by Colorado Christian to claim the match in five sets, 23-25,25-22,25-15,16-25 and 15-10, and halting their losing streak at 11 matches.
The win marks the third time this season that the ThunderWolves have seen a match go to five sets, and it also improves the Pack's 2008 five-set match record to a perfect 3-0.
The ThunderWolves had an up-and-down match, falling 25-23 in the first set before taking the second set by a 25-22 advantage. The second set was critical, as the ThunderWolves held a large lead, as large as 22-14 at one point, before Christian made a spirited comeback and threated to steal the game. But in a sign that the Pack's confidence and ability is one the mend, the team circled the wagons.
"We have kept talking about playing to win and finishing strong, not playing safe when we have the lead," ThunderWolves coach Chris Jonson said. "We've always known that we've had the ability to play strong, but prevailing in that situation helped to give us the confidence that we can compete."
The Pack cruised to an easy third set win before Christian evened things up with a 25-16 fourth set win. Jonson said it was the fourth set that was a game-changer, as the ThunderWolves entered the decisive fifth set not reeling from Christian's ability to tie things up, but riding the momentum of having delivered a series of hard attack attempts and putting the Cougars' defense on notice.
"In the fourth game, we went after it hard," Jonson said. "We swung a lot, and though we had a lot of errors, we sent the message that we're coming after them."
In the deciding match, the ThunderWolves overcame an early 4-1 lead by Christian to go on an 8-2 run, benefitting from two kills and two blocks by Bernadette Pitre (Fr., Clifton, Colo.) down the stretch, and earning the 15-10 win
The ThunderWolves' defense kept up its improvement, holding the Cougars to a cumulative attack percentage of .172, the lowest attack percentage by a Pack opponent in seven games. Offensively, meanwhile, the ThunderWolves got a resurgent performance from Alea Wildman (Fr., Denver, Colo.), who registered a season and career-high of 17 kills. Joining Wildman in the double-digit kill category was Melissa Jones (So., Longmont, Colo.), who turned on ten.
The ThunderWolves' win gives them their first RMAC win of the season and improves their record to 3-13 overall.