Confident Mavs sweep Fort Lewis
Lindsey Jefferson calls it being goofy.
“We were a little goofy and we always play better when we’re a little goofy,” the Mesa State sophomore middle blocker said. “That’s what they always say, play goofy.”
Assistant coach Maggie Chelbana calls it being kooky.
Dave Fleming calls it a win.
“Maggie keeps talking about that, they play better kooky,” Fleming said. “Kooky and cocky ... or confident.
“I think to get to that kooky level, you have to be confident, confident in where you are, confident in what you’re doing and
I think that’s what brought it out. They were comfortable in the situation they were in tonight.”
Whatever the attitude the Mesa State College volleyball team had going into Saturday night’s crucial RMAC match against Fort Lewis College, it was the right one.
The Mavericks took the match right to the Skyhawks, who entered the week in first place of the RMAC West Division, and came out with a 25-22, 25-23, 25-15 victory at Brownson Arena.
Just like that, the Mavericks have clinched a spot in the RMAC tournament and are in the middle of the race for the RMAC West title. They’re one match back of Western New Mexico, their opponent in the final match of the season.
“I told them we’re in (the RMAC tournament) and we’re playing for the two seed, and they liked that,” Fleming said. “We control our own destiny, and this late in the year with our ups and downs, it’s good to know we can have a good seed going into the RMAC tournament.”
Jefferson would just as soon not know what’s going on in the standings, but she likes how the Mavs are playing right now.
“Coach kind of keeps us updated. ... Some of the girls keep track of it on their own, but I’d rather not so I don’t let it get in my head. I like not knowing things,” she said.
Mesa State (13-11, 11-6 RMAC) beat Fort Lewis in five games earlier this season in Durango, but needed less than 90 minutes on Senior Night.
After libero Ashley Loftsgard and middle blocker Jessica Bird were showered with gifts, including the traditional Hawaiian leis (Bird is from Honolulu), the Mavericks went right to work.
Only five times in the match did the Skyhawks (16-9, 11-6 RMAC) hold the serve for more than two points. And just when it appeared the Skyhawks had figured out how to defend Gabrielle Lovato, Fleming went to his ace in the hole — rather, his size on the line — 6-foot-3 freshman outside hitter Corinne Cascioppo.
“Big helps,” Fleming said. “It’s such a good problem to have, with Corinne and Bria and Ali (Tompkins). You want to see what they can do. We didn’t get a chance to do that last night and I told the coaches, let’s find a way early to get Corinne and Meagan (Bosch) in early. They all deserve to start.
“The other team notices her when she comes in. Bria is playing great, but 6-3, you notice when she walks on the court.”
With the second game tied at 14-14, in came Cascioppo. She quickly got a kill, and after Bird got a quick set in the middle for a 22-21 lead, Cascioppo threw one down, then tipped the ball back across the net for a 24-21 lead.
It took a couple of points before the Mavs put it away, with Cascioppo scoring the winning point.
The big lineup worked in the third game, too, with Cascioppo and Jefferson, who is 6-2 in the middle, heavily involved early on.
Jefferson had four of her five kills in the third game and teamed up for a block with Bosch to get it to match point. And when the Skyhawks attacked the middle, Jefferson smothered it for the match.
Tompkins was the steady hitter from the outside, recording 13 kills, with only three errors, and Lovato and Cascioppo each had seven.
Defensively, the Mavericks refused to let Fort Lewis gain any momentum. Mesa State made only three receiving errors on serves and scrambled to keep balls in play.
More than anything, the Mavericks were the aggressors.
“That was big for me,” Fleming said. “We won making plays. Two big stuff blocks against (Chelsea) Flaming, and she’s such a good hitter, and we made plays against their middles. It wasn’t their errors, it was what we were doing, and that was huge.
“Corinne, that last swing in Game 2 (a thundering cross-court attack), that’s making the play, being confident in your ability and making plays.”