Tall Mavs sweep Panhandle
These kids don’t play like freshmen.
The youngsters for the Colorado Mesa University volleyball team have proven to be quick studies, and in a match where coach Dave Fleming got 14 players ample match time, Christian Otzen, Abby Ney and Audrey Steinkirchner more than held their own.
If you didn’t have a roster Saturday night, you’d be hard-pressed to figure out who was playing high school volleyball a year ago.
The Mavericks used their superior talent and height in a three-game sweep of Oklahoma Panhandle University in the final match of the Holiday Inn Crossroads Fall Classic, 25-12, 25-12, 25-16.
The win ended the Mavs’ portion of the tournament 3-1 after their win over Texas Woman’s University 25-21, 18-25, 28-26, 25-23 on Saturday morning.
Senior Kelly Regimbal led Mesa with 11 kills against Panhandle, but the Mavs’ depth and balance was on display all day. Against Texas Woman’s, Otzen had 16 kills, sophomore Casey Ball had 13 and sophomore Melissa Hess 11.
Hess, Ney and Rachael Beaty dominated things in the middle of the front row, no matter who was on the floor.
“I worked really hard this summer to get into (the rotation),” Ney said. “I want to make an impression as a freshman. I think I am, and I want to continue to do that.”
Ney, who gives opponents fits by being a left-handed middle hitter, had six kills against the Aggies, as did Beaty.
“Every once in awhile you see a left-handed right-side, but they don’t expect it,” Ney said. “It’s really fun for us.”
When she was younger, coaches tried to move her to the right side, but finally gave up.
“Finally when I was 16, they said, ‘We’re just going to put you in the middle,’ ’’ she said. “Everyone had to adjust and learn, but the setters are especially doing an awesome job. I just say, ‘I’m a lefty, so you have to make a little adjustment,’ but mostly it’s on me. I try to make the adjustment to where I’m coming in to hit. It’s just the little things, just get it a little more to the left.”
Add in the suffocating net play of the 6-foot-2 Steinkirchner, who had seven kills in 11 attempts, it’s easy to see why Fleming was smiling after the match, even though he shuffled his lineup against a clearly overmatched team.
“David (Skaff, his assistant coach) asked me why I was stressed after Game 2, and I told him it’s because we usually don’t play clean matches in matches like this, and we did,” Fleming said. “We did what we were supposed to do. They got some points, but overall we played a clean match, and I can’t ask for anything more.”
Mesa used scoring runs of seven and five points in the first game with Krista Ubersox and Otzen at the service line and the hitters swinging away, recording 14 kills with only two hitting errors.
Fleming sent in the second wave for much of the second game, and the Aggies made it a little closer than the first, pushing the Mavericks early. But at 12-9, Regimbal put a ball away down the line and Otzen followed with a kill for a 14-9 lead.
Up 18-12, Beaty saw an opening and demanded the ball. She got the set and slammed home a kill, and Steinkirchner followed with kills on two of the next three points, and the Mavs cruised in the third game.
Libero Megan Rush made the all-tournament team, her second such honor in as many weeks.
The Maverick women finished sixth and the men seventh at the PUMA/Joe I. Vigil Open at Cattails Golf Course in Alamosa.
Melissa Bauer finished 25th overall in the women’s 5-kilometer race in 19 minutes, 32 seconds. Shannon Emery (19:46) and Lindsay Hyde (19:49) were 36th and 37th, respectively.
In the men’s 8K race, CMU’s Shane Niksic was 50th overall in 27:35, and John Cusic was 52nd in 27:36.