Mavs rally late, fall to Metro State
The rally started too late Friday for the Mesa State College volleyball team.
The Mavericks dropped the first two games against Metro State in the semifinals of the RMAC tournament, but despite tying the match by winning games 3 and 4, couldn’t keep the momentum, losing in five games.
Metro State, ranked No. 23 in the nation and one spot behind Mesa State in the Central Region rankings at No. 8, claimed a 25-20, 25-18, 21-25, 17-25, 15-6 victory to move into tonight’s championship match against Nebraska-Kearney, which swept Colorado School of Mines.
Mesa State (19-11) will await Sunday’s announcement of which eight teams receive bids to the regional tournament. The Mavericks are ranked seventh in the region but have gone 2-2 the past two weeks.
It’s possible Metro State and Mesa State will switch places in the final regional poll Sunday, which would pit the Mavericks against the No. 1 team in the nation, Concordia St. Paul (30-0), in the first round, likely at Concordia. Mesa State is 18-4 in regional competition.
“There were a couple of (regional) committee members here,” Mesa State coach Dave Fleming said. “It’s such a crazy formula, you never know, but hopefully we get the eight (seed) and a ticket, probably to Concordia.”
Mesa State’s inability to get the serve away from Metro and hold it cost the Mavs the fifth game. They had 16 chances to get a sideout, but won the point only six times. Metro snatched the serve away from Mesa State all six times the Mavs were at the service line.
“They played really well, a lot of credit has to go to (Metro),” Fleming said. “We couldn’t get them out of system. They were passing everything to the setter and they have good hitters, a lot like us. When they’re in system they’re tough to beat.”
In the two games the Mavericks won, they converted those chances more than 60 percent of the time, which allowed them to keep the momentum.
The Roadrunners (23-7) effectively took away Mesa State’s middle attack, but that also opened up the outside hitters, and Ali Tompkins and Tessa Andrews each had 16 kills. Tompkins made only four hitting errors and had 17 digs, and Andrews, who had only six hitting errors, had six blocks, three solo.
Middle hitter Antoinette McCormick had six kills, outside hitter Gabrielle Lovato seven and Meagan Bosch had seven off the bench, splitting her time between playing outside and middle hitter.
Both defenses gave their teams plenty of chances — Metro State had 82 digs, with five players reaching double figures, and Mesa State had 77, with four in double figures.
Amy Watanabe, the RMAC defensive player of the year, had 22 digs to lead Metro. Tompkins and Whitney Howard had 17 each, Meredith Dolny 16 and Megan Rush 11.
“From a true volleyball fan’s view, I’m sure it was a fun match to watch,” Fleming said. “There was a lot of good defense on both sides. They were good early and we were not so good, but we picked it up on our side, just not quite enough.”
Mesa State’s first exhibition game surprised even first-year coach Roger Walters.
Playing Snow College, the rebuilding Mavericks lost 74-68 to the Badgers, who opened the season 3-0.
“The kids played their hearts out and we came up a little short,” Walters said.
The Mavericks were outrebounded 45-22 but still led late in the game.
“We were up four with about seven (mintues) to go and we turned it over three consecutive times,” he said. “That was the ballgame and we couldn’t get it back.”
Mesa State turned the ball over only 10 times, but the three down the stretch made a big difference, Walters said.
“They haven’t played together, a new team, new system,” he said of the Mavs. “They surprised me, they really did. This team’s gonna be easy to root for.”
Meagan Selvidge led Mesa State with 16 points, Jennifer Landers added 14 and Jenn Kimbrow 12.
Mesa State plays its final exhibition game tonight against Utah Valley State.