Ubersox returns to Mesa VB team after four years away
Krista Ubersox was playing in a volleyball tournament last spring and bumped into Maggie Chlebana, the Colorado Mesa University assistant volleyball coach.
Their conversation went something like this:
Chlebana: Do you miss it?
Ubersox: Every day.
Chlebana: Well, you still have a year left. Would you ever use it?
Ubersox: In a heartbeat.
Chlebana: Well, that’s funny, because we need a setter.
“My eyes opened wide,” said Ubersox, who is 25 years old and will start at setter this weekend for the Mavericks at the Oredigger Classic in Golden.
“That’s how it happened. In a heartbeat. Not many people get the opportunity and I’m so appreciative to have it.”
Ubersox played for the Mavericks in 2007 and graduated in the spring of 2008. She had one year of volleyball eligibility remaining, but a job offer in the human resources department at School District 51 was too good to pass up.
“I could either take the job; the economy was already poor, and I had student loans,” she said. “Or I could come back to school and take whatever classes. I thought it would probably be smart to take a job, so I did.”
Just like that, her competitive volleyball career was over.
Or so she thought, until that meeting with Chlebana and a visit with head coach Dave Fleming.
“They gave me a recruiting visit,” she said, laughing and talking about how much the campus has changed since her last stint.
“I asked them if they could take me around, because I don’t know where I am. I did the whole tour and came to practice, and it was like I’d been on the team forever.”
The return of Ubersox gives the young Mavericks two seniors. Senior Antoinette McCormick, a 5-foot-10 preseason All-RMAC selection from Grand Junction, is back as the starting middle hitter.
As in the past, the offense will run through the middle, which helps open up Mesa’s pin hitters.
Kelly Regimbal, a 6-foot junior, will start on the right side, with Haleigh Higgins, a 5-10 sophomore from Central, and Rebecca Sellers, a 6-1 sophomore, at outside hitter. Rachael Beaty, a 6-1 junior, is the other middle, with 5-7 junior Megan Rush at libero.
Sunni Rae Baird, a 5-6 sophomore, and Tiffany Petersen, a 5-7 freshman, will rotate into the back row.
Freshmen Melissa Hess, a 6-2 middle, Jordyn Moody, a 5-10 setter, and redshirt freshman Kelley Johnson, a 6-2 middle, will also get plenty of reps this weekend as coach Dave Fleming tries to determine his rotation.
Although the Mavericks are replacing several positions, Fleming says not to count them out this season.
Rush was the Mavs’ fulltime defensive specialist last season, Beatty started two years ago and Ubersox ran the offense in ‘07.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “We can do some damage. We shouldn’t step back because we’re rebuilding. I think we can still win the West and make a run to the NCAA tournament.”
Ubersox will be running a faster offense than the Mavericks played last year with Tara King, who is now playing professionally overseas.
“T was a great high-ball setter and we want to run a faster offense this year,” Fleming said. “When you introduce a new offense and have a new setter, that’s a good time to do it.”
Strangely enough, Ubersox stepped in for King in 2007. King played as a freshman in 2006, but was injured in a car accident and redshirted in 2007. After King graduated, the Mavs found themselves short on experienced setters again.
Enter Ubersox, who is learning to balance volleyball, which practices at 6:30 or 7 a.m., taking 12 hours of classes to start on her master’s degree in business, and a fulltime job.
Being away from the game has given her a new-found perspective.
“I’m not nervous,” she said. “I’m more confident in myself, I’m older now. When you’re in college, you don’t really come into you own until you’re older and graduate. You really realize what matters. This matters to me, so I’m going to relish it and take it all in and appreciate it for what it’s worth and get out of it what I can.”
She laughs about being so much older than her teammates — “We were on our trip to Aspen in preseason and one of the girls turned 18,” she said, groaning.
“I think she was just an older kid blending with new kids,” Fleming said. “It wasn’t rust, it was comfort level, learning how to talk to these kids a few years younger. I think she’s through that now and feels comfortable.
“A 25-year-old talking to 18-year olds is different.”
But, Ubersox said, they all have one big thing in common — volleyball.
“They’re easy to get along with,” she said. “They love volleyball and they’re super competitive.”
That, and having played in Fleming’s system before, made her return even easier.
“I feel at home,” she said. “I’m home again.”