Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Fort Lewis College head volleyball coach Shelly Aaland hoped the environmental pressures of facing top-tier talent on the Front Range last week might have forced her population of Skyhawks to undergo a bit of naturally selected genetic drift.
But Friday night FLC found out that even after tough tests of evolutionary fitness, instead of legs, they’ve still got fins. The No. 25 Adams State Grizzlies cut through the Skyhawks in three games at Whalen Gymnasium – 25-13, 25-12, 25-15.
“I had higher expectations that we’d evolved a little bit more,” Aaland said.
“I definitely expected a different result.”
In Friday night’s land-based encounter, the Skyhawks spent too much time floundering in the mud, providing ample feeding opportunities for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference-rival Grizzlies.
FLC tallied 25 errors as it struggled to play in control and set up kills.
Game 1: The Skyhawks had a -.091 hitting percentage.
Game 2: The Skyhawks had a -.286 hitting percentage.
Game 3: The Skyhawks had a .065 hitting percentage.
“We were successful in keeping ourselves from getting anything going,” Aaland said.
“The passes weren’t good so the sets weren’t good so the hits weren’t good.”
Most of the Skyhawks’ attack consisted of either tipping the ball or hitting it out of bounds as they struggled to break the Grizzlies’ block at the net. Adams State totaled seven team blocks compared to the Skyhawks’ three.
Kristin Stephan, who also assisted on a team-high two blocks, led the Skyhawks in kills with five, followed by four each from Stephani Sonka and Ashley Wells, as the FLC women wallowed to just 16 total kills.
FLC setter Ciara Krening had 12 assists.
“I think we started overplaying,” FLC libero Jenna Kinzer said. “So we were out of control.”
And the contrast with the other side of the net was deep.
Adams State tallied 38 total kills, 10 of them from Dominique Davis, followed by seven from each Megan Tapia and Letisha Spencer and six apiece from Deprece Washington and Lindsey Stindt.
The Grizzlies didn’t wait long to get their power hitting game going, either, going on a 16-3 run to finish off the first game before mowing through the next two.
The Skyhawks came up with just 23 total digs.
“They definitely hit hard, and they’re smart,” Aaland said.
Bayfield High School alumna Gabriella Rifilato had 33 assists on those kills, but she said the key difference Friday was in the serving.
Adams State had six service aces against FLC, led by two from Rifilato and two more from younger sister Katherine Rifilato, a freshman from Bayfield who led the Grizzlies with 11 of their 44 digs.
The crowd that filled about a third of FLC’s home gymnasium was noticeably quiet – a decibel level that Aaland said she hopes increases with their 7 p.m. game today – their annual Pink Digs for the Cure match.
Kinzer said FLC (9-13, 5-9 RMAC) will need to play with better discipline against Western State tonight, but she’s not too worried about taking care of fixable errors.
“I hope to give the crowd more to cheer for,” Aaland said about FLC’s home finale before four on the road to finish the regular season.
“This team has a long way to go. We have a lot to prove, still.”