Mavericks look to halt topsy-turvy tendencies
It’s a level of volleyball Dave Fleming hasn’t seen in his four years as coach at Mesa State College.
“I keep telling the kids I’ve still seen some of the best volleyball played at Mesa State since I’ve been here out of this group,” he said.
But then there’s the kicker.
“It’s just been inconsistent. I’ve had teams that are more consistent. Not as talented, but more consistent. They just need to understand they don’t have to bring their best match every night, but they have to be good. I think we’re just pressing a little bit. We get into press mode. If we do what we did the first time through the West, we’ll be fine.”
The second half of the RMAC West Division play begins at 7 tonight at Brownson Arena when the Mavericks (10-10, 8-5 RMAC) play the only team in the West that beat them the first time through, Adams State (11-10, 8-6 RMAC).
In the first meeting in Alamosa, the Mavs’ inconsistency cropped up. After rattling off five straight wins to open the West, dropping only two games in that span, the Mavericks ran into an Adams State team that was on its game, committing only eight hitting errors in the match.
On the other side of the net, the Mavericks couldn’t generate an attack, making 12 hitting errors in one game alone.
“I was talking to Maggie (Chelbana, his assistant coach) and right now we’re like Six Flags, with the steep roller coasters. We need to be Disneyland, with a couple of little dips, but not much,” Fleming said.
Since the Adams State loss, the Mavs have been on Six Flags’ Superman Ride of Steel, a 20-story roller coaster with a 221-foot vertical drop — one win, three losses, another two wins, then another loss.
As a coach, Fleming would prefer the Disneyland Tea Cup ride, maybe Splash Mountain.
The most recent loss still has Fleming tossing and turning.
“Do I still have those Mines stats, or did I burn them?” he said of the Mavs’ 3-2 loss to Colorado School of Mines. In that match, the Mavs were up 20-16 in the third game and had a 2-0 games lead.
“We lost that sense of urgency. It’s 20-16 and we’re thinking we’re gonna cruise home now,” he said.
“Lesson learned. It’s real evident in the energy level. As son as there’s a reason to panic, the energy level just goes through the floor.
“I’m aware of it, they’re aware of it and they’re trying to deal with it. As soon as they start to panic, uh-oh, they’ve got a hitter on fire. It happened with Adams State when Andrea Tuck got hot the first time around.”
Tuck, one of the best hitters in the conference, averaging four kills a game, finished with 13 kills against Mesa.
“There’s no reason we can’t get the points right back unless we panic and the energy level goes down,” Fleming said.
With a bonafide homestand — a season-long four matches — the Mavericks have a chance to catch up on some rest and concentrate on fundamentals as they make their final run toward the RMAC tournament.
“On defense, we’re re-emphasizing the fundamentals,” Fleming said. “When we get to that 20-16 point, 20-18, 20-19, we have to go to our fundamentals and know we’re still a good volleyball team, if we stick to our fundamentals.”