Pack Volleyball clinches RMAC Tournament bid, escapes Westminster

Pack Volleyball clinches RMAC Tournament bid, escapes Westminster

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (November, 12, 2016)  Entering their regular season finale, Colorado State University-Pueblo Volleyball knew it needed a win and a little bit of help to qualify for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament. The Pack took care of its business, edging out Westminster College in five sets (26-28, 25-16, 19-25, 25-21, 15-13).

By virtue of Western State Colorado University losing in three sets to Adams State, the Pack moved into a tie for eighth place in the RMAC standings. The Pack will take the last spot in the eight –team playoff because it holds the tiebreaker over the Mountaineers. The Pack defeated Western State in five sets, Oct.8 to gain the advantage in the head-to-head, which is the first tiebreaker used in RMAC protocol.

With the victory, the Pack qualified for its third consecutive conference tournament appearance. This is the first time in school history that CSU-Pueblo has reached the postseason in three consecutive seasons.

Picking up where she left off Tuesday, Caitlin Broadwell (Jr., Lawrence, Kan.) delivered an impactful performance to lead the pack to victory. Broadwell knocked down a match-best 20 kills. She also set a career-high with 23 digs to help the ThunderWolves get the victory. Broadwell hit .286 for the match with three blocks and a service ace. Broadwell's double-double was her fifth of the season.

Junior Elena Michalski (Longmont, Colo.) earned her third consecutive double-double with 37 assists and 10 digs. Michalski's 37 assists marked a new career-high. She now has eight double-doubles in 2016.

Senior Megan Schultz (Colorado Springs, Colo.) attacked efficiently throughout the night. Schultz hit a team-best .379 for the match along with a season-high 11 kills. She added seven blocks (one solo). Schultz came through with three service aces and six digs.

ShiAnn Rodriguez (R-Fr., Pueblo, Colo.) narrowly missed a double-double with nine kills and 13 digs. Rodriguez also came up with five blocks.

Junior Misha McDowell (Gilbert, Ariz.) finished nine kills. McDowell also delivered five blocks. Senior Tanja Ranilovic (Belgrade, Serbia)spiked down eight kills.  

Katie Burnett (Sr., Austin, Texas) added 16 more digs. Burnett became the first Pack student-athlete to have 500 digs in a single season (507). Her 4.97 digs/set also broke a school single-season record.

The Pack got out to a fast start, scoring five of the match's first six points. Westminster battled back to tie the game at 17. The two squads traded points until a Schultz kill put the Pack up 26-25. Facing game point, the Griffins responded with three consecutive points to take the first set 28-26.

CSU-Pueblo dominated the second set. A four-point run put the Pack up 10-6. From there, a 10-3 stretch gave the Pack a 21-13 advantage. They would ride this run to a 25-16 set win. The ThunderWolves hit .367 in the second set, while Griffins hit .000 in the second as the two teams entered the break tied.

Coming out of the intermission, the two teams battled to a 7-7 tie. From that point the Griffins went on a 14-6 run that put them up 21-13. The Pack attempted to rally, but wound up dropping the set 25-19.

Midway through the fourth set, the Pack went on a 6-1 run that gave them an 18-12 lead. Though the Griffins would trim the Pack's advantage to 23-21, a Schultz kill and a Rodriguez service ace gave the Pack a 25-21 win in the fourth. With the match tied at two sets a piece the two teams went to a fifth set to determine a winner.

After the Pack jumped out to a 2-0 lead, Westminster went on an 8-0 run that put CSU-Pueblo's playoff hopes on the ropes. The ThunderWolves would not go away, answering the Griffins runs with a 9-2 rally of its own to take an 11-10 lead. With the set tied at 13, Michalski took over. The Pack's setter scored a kill on a second set attack. She would end the match with a service ace that gave the Pack a 15-13 set win and a 3-2 victory in the match.

The victory gave the Pack a 12-15 overall record. CSU-Pueblo's 12 wins surpasses its total from a season ago. After their victory, the Pack watched as Adams State swept the Mountaineers to send the ThunderWolves to the postseason for the third consecutive year.

Entering the RMAC Tournament as the eighth seed, the Pack will face the top seeded Metro State University Denver. The Pack will travel to Denver to face the Roadrunners Tuesday in the First Round of the RMAC Tournament.

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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics