Briefs: Mesa State Roundup November 16, 2006

Mavericks rally behind defense to reach RMAC final

Volleyball

• Defense wins championships.

Dave Fleming has preached it since the day he was hired as the Mesa State College volleyball coach.

That defense has the Mavericks one match away from the RMAC championship after a two-hour battle royale Saturday against Colorado School of Mines in the conference tournament in Kearney, Neb.

Mesa State’s 20-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-14, 15-9 victory left Fleming “jazzed and exhausted.”

“I probably won’t be able to sleep until 2 o’clock in the morning,” he said. “It was huge that we pulled Game 3 out. We figured it out. We started out giving them points with errors and we slowed it down and said, ‘Hey, they can’t beat us if we stop giving them stuff.”

The Mavericks’ defense took it to another level, with five players recording double figures in digs.

Senior libero Ashley Loftsgard had 26, defensive specialist Meredith Dolny 16, setter Tara King 15, outside hitter Alisan Tompkins 14 and defensive specialist Whitney Howard 10.

“We made some nice adjustments,” Fleming said. “Ashley was making some nice adjustments. We were letting the play happen but that stinking ball wasn’t going to touch the ground. We made huge plays.

“Ninety-three digs. Right there, that tells you we were creating opportunities for our hitters and taking things away from their hitters.”

And the hitters came through.

Tompkins had 22 kills and senior middle blocker Jessica Bird 13. Lindsey Jefferson and Gabrielle Lovato had eight each and Tessa Andrews six.

“Ali turned it on,” Fleming said. “We were struggling a little bit early and she just caught fire at the end of that third game. She said, ‘this isn’t it. The season isn’t over.’ Our middles played great and
Tara found the right hitter at the right time.

“It was a fun, fun win. Credit Mines, they played well, but it was just a fun win.”

Mesa State (16-12) plays fifth-seeded Regis University, which defeated Adams State 25-18, 20-25, 25-17, 25-22. The title match begins at 1 p.m. (MST) today.

The winner receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Division II Central Region tournament.

The Northern Sun has six teams ranked in the top seven in the region. Concordia-St. Paul finished the season 31-1 and will likely host the tournament. Pairings will be released starting at 6 tonight on ncaa.com.

“I think it’s whoever wins, and Kearney who is going, and from there, who knows?” Fleming said.

“We have to win to guarantee a spot.”

MEN’S Basketball

• Southern Utah went on a 13-3 run midway through the second half to turn a 50-50 game into a
63-53 lead on its way to an 85-73 victory over Mesa State in the season opener for both teams.

John Clifford fueled that run for the Thunderbirds and finished with 24 points. Dave Marek and Jake Nielson scored 11 points each and Mike Josserand 10.

Mesa State got 18 point from Jase Herl in his Mesa State debut, despite playing with a badly bruised right thumb, which he injured Tuesday in practice. Aaron Markham scored 10 off the bench and Kurt Bangle and Ryan Mathews had nine each.

Both teams struggled with turnovers, but Southern Utah turned Mesa State’s 22 turnovers into 29 points. The Mavs scored 18 points off the Thunderbirds’ 21 turnovers.

The inside game went to Southern Utah, which scored 34 points in the paint and 10 off offensive rebounds. Mesa State scored 26 points in the paint, with nine points coming off 11 offensive boards.

No Mesa State player had more than Herl’s five rebounds, and the Mavs’ only true center, Bangle, didn’t have a rebound.


Women’s Basketball

• Five players scored in double figures to lead Utah Valley University to an 83-39 exhibition victory over Mesa State at the McKay Center in Orem, Utah.

The Wolverines limited Mesa State to 28.6 percent shooting from the floor (16 of 56) and outrebounded the Mavericks 44-27. Mesa had 26 turnovers to five assists.

Mesa center Stephanie Delgado, one of three seniors on the team, led the Mavs with 12 points and four steals. Junior guard Heather Habekost added seven points. Ten Mesa players had played at least 12 minutes.

The Mavericks open the season Friday in the Fort Lewis College tournament against Oklahoma Panhandle State in Durango.


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