Pack kicks off season with key wins

Pack kicks off season with key wins

ThunderWolves upend Southwestern Oklahoma State in three, 2011 Heartland Conference champion St. Edward's in five.

AUSTIN, Texas ( - Aug. 31, 2012) - The CSU-Pueblo volleyball team showed off its new faces Friday as the 2012 season got underway, snagging two wins on the opening day of the Rattler/Hilltopper Classic in Austin, Texas.

The ThunderWolves claimed a three-set win over Southwestern Oklahoma State, a team thatwon nine matches a season ago, and a rousing five-set win over host St. Edward's, giving the Pack a defeat over a team that has won four straight Heartland Conference titles and won 21 games last season, qualifying for the NCAA Division II National Tournament.

In the Pack's opening win over Southwestern Oklahoma, 25-15, 25-15, 25-18, the Pack attack was firing on all cylinders, led by senior middle blocker Angela McAdams (Sr., Blinn, Tex.).  McAdams set a career-best in kills with a team-high 13, hitting .500 in the game.  On the opposite side, sophomore Sierra Moran (So., San Diego, Calif.) had her best collegiate game, not comitting a single error while registering 11 kills and hitting a team-best .579.

It was against St. Edward's, though, that the Pack showed its true stripes.  CSU-Pueblo came back from two sets down to upend the Hilltoppers in dramatic fashion, winning 20-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-22, 15-10. 

The ThunderWolves started the comeback with an absolutely dominant third set, winning 25-15 after jumping out to a 7-1 lead and restoring the confidence that they could win. 

In the fourth set, the ThunderWolves were struggling, trailing 16-12, when the Pack caught fire.  CSU-Pueblo converted four straight points and six of the next eight points, tying the match at 18 points apiece before it was able to pull away for good.  CSU-Pueblo was helped along by strong play down the stretch all around, particularly by Marissa Calvillo (Fr., Rio Rancho, N.M.), who converted three points, including two aces, as the ThunderWolves forced the fifth set with the 25-22 win.

In the tiebreaking set, the ThunderWolves were able to show tenacity by shrugging off a 4-1 deficit and slowly claw its way back into the set.

After St. Edward's took a 7-4 lead, CSU-Pueblo took over by converting seven straight points, jumping out to an 11-7 lead it would hold until claiming the victory. The wins, against St. Edward's particularly, are huge for the ThunderWolves.  Changing NCAA regions in 2012, St. Edward's is now an in-region opponent and will carry weight for the Pack later in the season as it pushes for a hopeful NCAA Division II Tournament berth.

CSU-Pueblo will continue at the Rattler/Hilltopper Classic Saturday, this time moving down the road to St. Mary's University in San Antonio where it will take on a couple more 20-win teams from a year ago, Abilene Christian and St. Mary's.