Regis ends Mesa State volleyball tourney run
No matter what Mesa State’s volleyball team tried Sunday, nothing could stop Regis University from winning the RMAC championship and claiming the No. 8 seed in this week’s NCAA Division II Central Region tournament.
The Rangers (19-11) claimed a 22-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-18 victory in Kearney, Neb., ending the Mavericks’ season at 16-13.
“They played really good,” Mesa State coach Dave Fleming said of Regis, the fifth seed in the tournament. “They basically beat us. I hate to lose, but they just played better. I don’t think we shot ourselves in the foot with errors, they played better. They deserve a lot of credit.”
Three RMAC teams including Regis made the regional tournament. Nebraska-Kearney is the No. 4 seed and faces Augustana (S.D.). Metro State entered the RMAC tournament eighth in the region and lost its first-round match, but still got a berth as the No. 7 seed. The Roadrunners face Southwest Minnesota State.
The tournament begins Thursday afternoon in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Mesa State seemed to be in good shape early, but couldn’t put together any scoring runs after winning the opening game.
“I’m not sure when it was in the second game, but we stopped scoring points,” Fleming said. “We’d have one or two real points (not off Regis errors), but we couldn’t get a run of three or four and they’d have a run of three or four and we couldn’t find an answer.”
Mesa tied the second game at 15-15 on a kill by Corinne Cascioppo, who finished with 13, but Regis scored six of the next eight points and put the game away on a kill by Kerry Grady.
After the break, the Mavericks came right back and took a 7-3 lead, but Regis kept chipping away until the Rangers tied it at 10-10 on a kill by Grady, one of her 10 in the match. A 10-6 Regis run followed and Mesa State couldn’t recover.
“We couldn’t get that cushion to get comfortable,” Fleming said. “That took a little energy away. We were able to get that cushion (Saturday) in games 3, 4 and 5 and today in the first game. That proved that energy to get through.”
The Rangers never trailed in the deciding game and built a seven-point lead at 21-14 on their way to the title.
Alisan Tompkins, who made the all-tournament team along with Mesa State setter Tara King, finished with 17 kills. Middle blocker Jessica Bird, in her final college match, had 10 kills, one solo block and one assisted block. The Mavs’ only other senior, libero Ashley Loftsgard, finished with 11 digs.
King had 44 assists and finished the tournament with 136. Tompkins had 55 kills in the three matches.
“We had a good tournament,” Fleming said. “We’re all disappointed right now, but being the seventh seed and getting to the finals, I’m proud of every one of them.”
It’s the first time in Fleming’s four years at Mesa State that the Mavs haven’t reached the NCAA tournament and ended a string of four straight years qualifying for the national playoffs.
“This team is better than 16-12, and the work we do from now until August 11 of next year will
determine our success,” Fleming said. “I think we’re talented enough to be in the RMAC finals. We’ve got to make some of those matches before this point easier. This is a good group.”