PUEBLO, Colo. - CSU-Pueblo's hottest sporting event Saturday was the Pack's showdown with RMAC-leading Colorado Mesa.
This game had everything. Comebacks. A power outage. A guy dressed as Batman surrounded by painted shirtless members of the Pack wrestling team.
But more importantly, it had a stunning come-from-behind win that saw the ThunderWolves upset 8-1 Colorado Mesa in five sets 13-25, 25-22, 13-25, 25-20, 15-12.
CSU-Pueblo's win was made all the more amazing considering that the Pack was getting beaten badly after three sets.
The ThunderWolves didn't have a prayer in the first and third sets, losing each 25-13 to a Mesa squad that seemed superior.
But a second-set win sandwiched in by a 25-22 score that featured the Pack's blocking game picking up momentum was seared into the back of the team's mind come the fourth set.
In that fourth set, CSU-Pueblo came back from an 8-3 deficit to convert nine of the following 12 points, going up 12-11 and forcing a Colorado Mesa time out. From there, the Pack kept it up, getting numerous blocks from Brianna Bryant (Sr., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and the rest of the Pack front line, two kills down the stretch from Morgan Wilkening (So., Fleming, Colo.), and suddenly the Pack wrested the momentum by claiming a 25-20 win.
Then the weirdness happened. First, CSU-Pueblo went up 4-0 in the fifth and deciding set. Mesa would cut it to 8-7 before the Pack converted four straight points, using two kills by Wilkening, to go up 12-7.
Then the lights went out. Literally.
In a Super Bowl-esque moment, the Pack's momentum was killed in a flicker, and after about 15 minutes of delay, the match resumed with Mesa picking up the first three points and cutting the lead to 12-10.
But the Pack got big plays from Skylar Conner (So., Edmond, Okla.), who came off the bench to play a key role in the final two sets, and especially on the match's final few points. Conner recorded the Pack's final three kills to give CSU-Pueblo an emotional five-set win.
CSU-Pueblo head coach Jen Gomez said the second set was key in providing the confidence the team needed in sets four and five, as well as the ThunderWolves' 17.5 team blocks.
"The way we won game two and game four showed our focus and consistency," Gomez said. "It was all about the block and how big it could be in swinging the momentum. We've focused all week on the blocking game and we had faith that we could get the job done."
Bryant emerged from the game with a double-double, securing 10 blocks and a team-high 17 kills, hitting .278, leading the charge in a match that wasn't big statistically for the Pack, which only hit .112 as a team, but spoke more to the overall team win exhibited Saturday night.
"I couldn't be more proud of this team," Gomez said. "They never panicked."
CSU-Pueblo is now 2-0 in conference play and is 5-6 overall, winning five of its last six matches.
The Pack will continue conference play Friday when it travels to Adams State.