DENVER – No. 12 Colorado School of Mines didn't start well, but the finish couldn't have been any better as the Orediggers topped sixth-seeded Colorado Christian by a 3-1 final on Thursday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Regis Fieldhouse in Denver.
Third-seeded Mines (26-6) advances to face second-seeded and ninth-ranked West Texas A&M (31-4) on Friday evening at 5 p.m. West Texas A&M defeated seventh-seeded and 23rd-ranked Arkansas-Fort Smith in its first-round matchup. This is the second-straight year Mines has advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after topping 4th-ranked and top-seeded Nebraska-Kearney in the opening round of the tournament last season.
The Orediggers have now won 21 of their last 24 matches, and moved their season record against CCU (23-10) to 4-0. Mines has now defeated CCU in 13 of the last 14 matches between the two squads.
Senior Jackie Stabell led the squad with 16 kills on a .378 attack percentage while adding four digs and two blocks on the defensive end. After just one kill in the opening set, Stabell posted 15 over the final three to lead Mines to a 3-1 victory. Her 16 kills pushed her over the 400-kill plateau for the second-straight season.
Junior Melanie Wannamaker followed with 12 kills on a .400 attack percentage while adding three digs and five blocks on the defensive end. Sarah Pekarek and Laura Beckmann notched nine kills apiece, with Pekarek posting hers on a .400 attack percentage with nine digs and two blocks on defense. Beckmann posted a team-high .562 attack percentage while adding two blocks on the defensive side.
Junior Hannah Margheim led the defensive efforts with 17 digs, including many acrobatic, full-extension digs that stole away sure points for CCU.
Freshman Danielle Johnson-Hazlewood posted her third match of the season with 50 or more kills after recording 50 on Thursday, while also finishing one dig shy of her 14th double-double of the season with nine digs defensively.
Making its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, CCU came out with a hot hand and solid defense in the first set en route to a stunning 25-15 victory.
The momentum carried over to the second set, where CCU matched the Orediggers point-for-point in running the score out to a 9-9 tie, and again at 18-18. Mines would begin to get its offense in rhythm, and posted a 7-4 run to close out the second set with a 25-22 victory.
The victory in the second set seemed to wake up the 2012 RMAC Champions, who ran out to an 11-3 lead in the third set to force CCU to use both of its timeouts before the midway point of the stanza. The stop in action would not slow down the Orediggers, who posted a 14-7 run following the second timeout to close out the third set with a 25-10 victory. The third set featured a .517 attack percentage by Mines, while CCU was limited to a .088 attack percentage in the set.
Mines' newfound control of the momentum would not waver, and helped by a .393 attack percentage in the deciding set, the Orediggers closed out the match with a 25-11 set victory.
Overall, the Orediggers posted 17 blocks on the defensive end to help limit the Cougars to a team attack percentage of .138, while the hot-hitting Miners recorded a blazing .371 attack percentage en route to the program's second NCAA Tournament victory under head coach Jamie Skadeland.
The Orediggers will continue their postseason run on Friday when the squad faces West Texas A&M at the Regis Fieldhouse in Denver at 5 p.m..
The Colorado School of Mines Department of Student Life will be offering free admission to Mines students to all Oredigger matches with a valid BlasterCard.
All matches will be played at the Regis Fieldhouse which is located at 3333 Regis Blvd., Denver, CO 80221 (Entrance 1). All fans are asked to park in Lot 6, which is on the corner of Regis Blvd. and Federal Blvd.
Single Day Ticket Prices: Adults $6, Students $3, Seniors $3, Kids 12-3 $2, Children under 2 Free
Tournament Pass: Adults $15