Pack pulls out thriller, claims first place

Pack pulls out thriller, claims first place

ThunderWolves outlast Western New Mexico in five, move to 4-1 in RMAC play.

PUEBLO, Colo. ( - Sept. 24, 2011) - The ThunderWolves faced down their first pressure win with flying colors Saturday, coming back from two sets to one against Western New Mexico to win in a battle for first place in the RMAC Western Division.

At 8-5 and 4-1 in conference play, the ThunderWolves are all alone in first place in the Western Division.

The win may not have been pretty, as the ThunderWolves committed a total of 35 errors in the service, blocking and attacking game.  But the Pack made up for it in intangible ways, bucking up when the game was on the line while the Mustangs faltered, especially in the fourth and fifth sets.

Trailing two to one and holding a slim 21-19 lead, CSU-Pueblo was able to benefit from two crucial Western New Mexico attack errors, one coming on a big block by Kacy Griffin (So., San Antonio, Tex.) and Bernadette Pitre (Sr., Clifton, Colo.), as the ThunderWolves eventually claimed a 25-23 win and forced a fifth set.

In that fifth set, the ThunderWolves came out firing on all cylinders.  Just as it did when it opened the match with a 6-0 lead in claiming the first set, the Pack jumped out to a 5-0 lead. 

Halfway through the set, CSU-Pueblo was leading 10-6 when both squads made defensive subs - the ThunderWolves brought in back row specialist Michelle Lambayan (Jr., Aiea, Hawaii) while the Mustangs brought in 6-foot-4 junior Taylor Henderson to anchor the front row.  But the move blew up in Western New Mexico's face, as Henderson committed a blocking error, part of a three-point rally by the Pack that eventually led to a 15-9 match-clinching win.

At 8-5, CSU-Pueblo is now off to its best start since 1997, which is also the last season the team qualified for the NCAA Division II National Tournament.  Its 4-1 conference mark is also tied for best in the conference with four other teams.

CSU-Pueblo will play at Western State Tuesday before returning home to face Adams State on Friday.