Home sweet home
Mesa volleyball team finally gets to play at Brownson Arena again
Dave Fleming was only half-joking when he said one of his biggest concerns this week is that the Colorado Mesa volleyball players don’t accidentally hop on a bus this week.
The Mavericks have had only one home weekend so far this season, so they’re used to climbing onboard after classes Thursday, bound for their next match.
“They might go through some withdrawal come Thursday after class when there’s no bus out there, or it’s not for them,” Fleming said Tuesday as he prepped for a rare home weekend.
The schedule hasn’t done the Mavericks any favors early, but it’s set up for them making a push toward the end of the conference season, with five of the final seven matches at Brownson Arena.
Mesa (7-8, 5-2 RMAC) hosts CSU-Pueblo on Friday night and Western State on Saturday night. The Mavericks are back to full strength, with All-American middle hitter Abby Ney returning to the court after missing more than four matches with a compound dislocation of her right pinkie finger. Ney went up for a block in the second set against CU-Colorado Springs two weeks ago and the ball caromed off her hand at a strange angle, and she immediately grabbed her right hand as the point was played out.
As soon as the point was over, Ney went to the side of the court as Fleming checked to see what happened, and called for a substitution. As she left the court, Ney doubled over in pain.
She missed the rest of that match, which the Mavericks won in five sets, and the next four, but returned to play last Saturday at Western New Mexico.
“She knows it will hurt every time she blocks a ball, but she said it’s worth it to her,” Fleming said. “(The attack) wasn’t driven hard, it’s something she does 100 times a day, it just hit her weird.”
The finger is splinted, padded and taped for practice and matches. The good news is that Ney is a rare left-handed middle hitter, so she can still attack. The pain comes when a ball hits off her right hand.
In 2008, Trevor Wikre, a lineman on the CMU football team, had a compound fracture of his pinkie finger that was going to require surgery to fuse the joint, which would have ended his career. Instead, he had the finger amputated, and after a couple of weeks was back on the field.
“Yeah, we weren’t going to let her do that,” Fleming said. “She’ll have full function; she can still be a concert pianist. You won’t remember pain in 10 years, you’ll remember playing.”
The Mavericks are tied for fifth in the overall RMAC standings, which determine the eight teams in the conference tournament, but have wins against two teams ahead of them, Regis and UCCS. The goal was to host the conference tournament, and that’s still possible, although they won’t have another chance to play Western New Mexico, which is 7-0 in the RMAC. The immediate goal is to find this team’s identity, Fleming said, and be one of the top four teams at the end to guarantee a first-round home match.
“We’re still in pretty good shape in the RMAC,” Fleming said. “Now we have to do what we’re supposed to do, win at home.”
Fresh off their successful showings in the Rocky Mountain Shootout in Boulder last week, the CMU men’s and women’s cross-country teams will host their one and only home meet of the season, the Maverick Open, at 9 a.m. on Saturday at Matchett Park. The start-finish line for both the men’s 8-kilometer race and the women’s 6K race will be near 28¼ Road, with the course heading toward the Highline Canal and back along Indian Wash. Each race will have three laps of varying lengths that will take runners throughout the park.
BYU and Air Force will be among the teams at El Pomar Natatorium this weekend as the CMU swimming and diving team opens the season with the Intermountain Shootout. Events begin at 5 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Taylor Wagner and Andy Shantz have been staring at their computer screens, counting down the days.
“One more week,” said Wagner, the CMU women’s coach. Division II teams can begin practice Oct. 15.
Senior center Ryan Stephan has made a couple of preseason All-America teams, the Sporting News Small College Hoops first team and the Division II Bulletin Super 16 list. Stephan has been hampered by knee tendinitis that flared up when he was playing in Australia last summer, but has been doing pool workouts and riding a stationary bike to stay in shape.
Now that the wrestlers have left the diamond, losing the annual grudge match against the softball team a couple of weeks ago, they’ll be in the wrestling room for practice starting Oct. 12.
The team’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the popular Steak and Crab Fest, is from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Oct. 17, homecoming weekend, on the lawn at the corner of 12th Street and North Avenue. Tickets are $60 for adults, $5 for children 6 and younger. It’s an all-you-can-eat setup, with burgers and hotdogs available for children. Tickets can be purchased at https://supportingcmu.org/events/steak-crab-fest or at the athletic offices.
Fans can get a sneak peek at CMU’s baseball team during the Mavs’ annual Fall Series this week at Suplizio Field. The Mavericks will play nine-inning games starting at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, a doubleheader at 10 a.m. on Saturday (7 innings each) and a nine-inning game at 10 a.m. on Sunday.