GOLDEN, Colo. – King women's volleyball opened the 2011 season with a road trip to the Oredigger Volleyball Classic in Golden, Colo. and waiting for the Tornado were the No. 11 Metro State Roadrunners. In doubleheader action, King fell in straight sets to Metro State and were outlasted by Southwestern Oklahoma State in a five-set loss in the nightcap.
The Tornado (0-2) were met by nationally ranked Metro State in the opening match of the tournament, a daunting task for their first action of the year. In all three matches, MSU won the race to 25 without allowing King to break 12 points (11-25, 12-25, 12-25). Twenty-one attack errors and 16 blocked attacks at the net by Metro State scorned King in their opening loss. Kelsey Griffitts (Bristol, Va.) led the Tornado with six kills while Joscelyn Knott (Lake Mary, Fla.) added a team-high 10 assists against the Roadrunners. Ashley Pittman (Norris, Tenn.) made six of the team's 19 digs.
King's second matched proved more challenging despite the outcome, a loss to Southwestern Oklahoma State (27-25, 19-25, 24-26, 25-23, 5-15). King rallied for an opening set win after being down 12-18 in part to nine SWOSU errors. After dropping back-to-back sets in the second (won on 9-1 run) and third, stayed within striking distance of the Bulldogs and made a late surge with the score 20-21 to overtake SWOSU by scoring five of the next eight points.
Sarah Van Goethem (Aurora, Colo.) made a splash in her home state with 17 kills in the match and a .267 attack percentage. Shannon Earwood (Carson City, Nev.) added 42 assists and five kills. Ashley Pittman also had a double-digit kill match, registering 12 in the loss.
The competition here is great. There are a lot of really good teams and we are here working things out, finding an identity and to play the competition that's here at the same time is going to prepare us greatly for the upcoming season.
"There were glimpses of really strong play," said head coach Chris Toomey. "Then there were moment where you saw some inexperience that was exposed. I really felt like we had the team to win the second match but we just did not execute."
Toomey continued, "I told the team that the season is a journey and you set goals to play in the postseason and to be in your top playing shape at the end. These are the tough matches that make you see where you have to get better, and that is why we participate in these tough tournaments."
King has two games remaining on their run in the Oredigger Volleyball Classic, both on Saturday, Sept. 3. The Tornado will open with Fort Lewis (0-1) at 12:00 p.m. MDT and end their tournament with a match against the Montana State University Billings (2-0) at 4:30 p.m. MDT.