To hear Fort Lewis College head coach Shelley Aaland describe it, playing Western New Mexico on Friday was like playing a vampire of sorts.
A “funky” nonchalant team, Aaland said the “scrappy and smart” Mustangs reacted almost lifelessly to both kills and errors, sucking away the Skyhawks own vigor as their creeping indifference threatened to overcome Fort Lewis’ own style of volleyball.
“It’s difficult to play against them because they suck energy,” Aaland said. “You’re trying so hard to get something going, and they don’t reciprocate. You just have to keep generating.”
But generate the Skyhawks (6-6, 2-2 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) did, halting a two-match slide as they defeated Western New Mexico (4-9, 1-2 RMAC) 25-22, 25-20, 16-25, 25-21 on Friday night at Whalen Gymnasium.
“I think that’s a big step for us that we were able to maintain our style of play,” Aaland said.
“It was a great win.”
Some things didn’t go so great: The Skyhawks posted a “ridiculously poor” 15 service errors.
Strong passing and defense from the front row to the back made up for it, though.
“We were able to make the other areas of our game overshadow” not-so-great areas, Aaland said.
The Mustangs helped the FLC women out, too, committing 34 errors to go with their 34 kills for a .000 hitting efficiency.
Still, Ciara Krening tallied 40 assists, Jenna Kinzer notched 15 of the team’s 48 digs, and Ashley Ellis had six total blocks, two of them solo.
“So (Ellis) is really coming through,” Aaland said. “We’ve got to find more ways to get her involved offensively, but she’s coming through defensively.”
Three Skyhawks found plenty of ways to get involved on offense, too, reaching double-digit kills.
Ashley Wells led the team with 15 kills, Stephani Sonka added 11, and Kristin Stephan had 10 kills as all three women experimented with new ways to hit shots, Aaland said.
“Ashley Wells had a good match,” she said. “You know, she gets on fire, and the team really responds well to that.”
FLC will take to the road next week to finish up the first third of its RMAC schedule: The Skyhawks will play Western State (1-10, 0-3 RMAC) at 7 p.m. Friday, then will play No. 25 Adams State (10-1, 3-0 RMAC) at 7 p.m. Saturday.