Mines engineers a win in 3

Orediggers top Skyhawks volleyball behind their high-powered offense

Most of the time, things aren’t anywhere near as good as they’re hyped up to be.

No. 12 Colorado School of Mines volleyball isn’t one of those things.

Fort Lewis College put up a pretty valiant effort, but the offensive firepower of the Orediggers was too much for the Skyhawks in a 3-0 sweep Saturday at Whalen Gymnasium.

The Orediggers (16-4, 10-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) won 25-20, 25-13, 25-17 behind a high-powered offense that accumulated an attack percentage of .391 as Danielle Johnson-Hazelwood spread the wealth.

Melanie Wannamaker had 12 kills, Anna Padget-Shields had 10, and Sarah Pekarek had eight.

“Their outsides had the fastest arm swings, and it was really hard on the block,” FLC’s Audrey Guiberson said. “Slow approach, fast arm swing – it was hard to time it.”

Still, FLC head coach Shelly Aaland was hoping for a bit more dilligence from her charges, particularly on defense.

“What I think we could’ve done a better job on was the discipline of our play, the discipline of our defense. ... We allowed them to set the pace of the match and didn’t challenge it as often as I would’ve liked,” Aaland said.

The opening set ebbed back and forth as FLC pulled even at 19-19. But a quick 4-0 outburst by the Orediggers snuffed any hopes of completing the rally.

Colorado Mines was at its most impressive in the second set. The Orediggers had 17 kills against just one error in rolling to a lead as big as 22-9 before closing out the set.

The attack percentage for Colorado Mines in the set was a staggering .485 against .091 for FLC, which attacked fairly well in the other two frames.

“I would say they were very clean and very disciplined in all aspects of their game,” libero Jenna Kinzer said. “And they had a very strong mental game, too – no lapses (for CSM), no runs (for FLC).”

Aaland didn’t call timeout at any point in that set, instead using it as a learning tool and hoping her team would get something out of having to figure out how to stem the tide within the flow of the game.

“I do think there are times to take a timeout and times to let them figure out things,” Aaland said.

FLC put up an attack percentage of .240 in the third set, but the Orediggers’ offense proved too tough to crack again.

FLC attempted a two-setter offense for awhile before the need for a defensive specialist became apparent.

“We went away from it because our right-side defense wasn’t producing the way we should, so why not put a defensive specialist there?” Aaland said.

Ashley Wells led FLC (9-9, 5-5 RMAC) with 11 kills, while Kinzer had nine digs.

Ciara Krening had 17 assists, and Tehya Smith had nine for FLC.

Johnson-Hazelwood had 36 assists, and Hannah Margheim led the Orediggers with eight digs.

The loss to the Orediggers, whom Aaland compared to her last NCAA Tournament team in 2007 in their machine-like offense, provided a bit of a measuring stick as the Skyhawks look for a swift return to the upper reaches of the RMAC.

“I think, seeing as we held our own in there against them ... we can play with anyone. It’s a matter of that heart and that drive to finish against them,” Kinzer said.

The Skyhawks now will hit the road against the always-tough RMAC East, starting with Thursday’s match against UC-Colorado Springs. They’ll then meet No. 20 Metro State on Friday and No. 18 Regis on Saturday.

rowens@durangoherald.com