First time in over a decade
by Garrett Finke
For the first time in over a decade, Western State Colorado University volleyball is heading to the conference playoffs.
Although their seed isn’t locked, the Mountaineers clinched a spot in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament with a win over UC-Colorado Springs on Saturday night at home. Saturday was also Senior Night for Western as five seniors made their final appearance in Paul Wright Gym.
It will be the first time since 2003 Western will make the RMAC Tournament. The Mountaineers are currently sitting in a tie for sixth place in the conference standings with UC-Colorado Springs. However, with the win Western holds the tiebreaker over the Mountain Lions and would be the sixth seed in the tournament. While the sixth seed would be the highest Western could get, the lowest possible seed for the Mountaineers would be seventh.
Western (13-15, 10-7 RMAC) got out to a fast lead and took a 2-0 lead in the match, winning the first set 25-20 and the second set 25-17. However, UC-Colorado Springs (15-11, 10-7 RMAC) would come back and win the third set 25-20 to force a fourth. The Mountaineers were up to the task as they put the Mountain Lions away 25-20 in the fourth set. On Senior Night, senior Taylor Castillo (Sr., Kiowa, Colo.) led the match in kills with 14 and was followed by teammate Tori Gaherty (Jr., Colorado Springs) who recorded 13.
As a team, the Mountaineers out-blocked UC-Colorado Springs 10-3. Molly Hothan (Jr., Ozawkie, Kansas) and Avery Burkholder (Jr., Helotes, Texas) led the way for Western with three blocks each.
Western will play their final match of the 2015 regular season next Thursday, on the road against CSU-Pueblo. That match will begin at 7 p.m. in Massari Arena. The RMAC playoffs will begin the following week on November 17.