Fighting struggles help Mavs with goals

Success by failure.

It’s a little trick Dave Fleming has learned along the way, and Tuesday he sprung it on the Mesa State College volleyball team.

“We struggled a little bit in practice, but we designed drills so they would struggle a little bit,” he said.
“Fighting their way through that is a key.

“We did some drills we hadn’t done all year. They’re really designed to push you to fail so that you can’t accomplish them until you get to that point where you get a little edgy, and they did. You learn a lot about kids when you get to that point.”

The whole key to the drills was that the Mavericks (6-5, 4-0 RMAC) didn’t realize they were supposed to fail.

“We tell them afterwards, that’s the way that drill was designed,” Fleming said. “It’s supposed to be tough and you’re supposed to fail and how you react is what we’re looking for. There were some positive reactions.”

Tuesday’s test was part of the process to keep the Mavericks, on a four-match winning streak, sharp as they head out for yet another RMAC road trip.

Mesa State plays at Adams State (5-7, 2-3 RMAC) on Friday night and Saturday at CSU-Pueblo (2-11, 0-5).

“Pueblo is not as bad as their record indicates,” Fleming said. “They’ve got two good middles, (Palisade graduate) Bernadette Pitre being one of them. If they can pass well, they’re pretty effective with their middles.

“Adams had a really good win against Duluth and if they get on a roll, they’re very good. They’ve got one of the best outside hitters in the conference in Andrea Tuck, and their other one, Kimberly Ingram, if she gets on fire, can be good as well. I don’t think they’re a 2-3 team, either.

“We lost to them in five last year in front of about 500 people, a good environment. We’ll remember that.

Then we went to Pueblo and beat them in five, so it was a tough road trip. If we play well, we should be OK.”

Lately, everything has been OK for the Mavs, who have rebounded after going 0-3 at the CU-Colorado Springs tournament before conference play began.

Senior middle blocker Jessica Bird, who has yet to play this season because of a broken bone in her right hand, returned to practice this week.

“We made Bird an assistant coach in charge of the middle blockers a few weeks ago, and she’s done a great job with that,” Fleming said. “In any middle drill, she’s talking them through that. She’s been a big help there,
especially with Antoiniette McCormick.”

The cast came off Bird’s hand Monday, and although she’s not ready to play, Fleming said she could be on the court Sunday when the Mavs have their annual alumni match at 2 p.m. at Brownson Arena.

He figures her first real action will be next weekend, when the Mavs have three home matches as they begin play against the RMAC East Division on Oct. 2-4.

“She’s been hitting the ball against the wall, trying to get her tempo back,” Fleming said. “She’ll be a little tentative blocking the first time.

“It’s a good problem to have, because we have both Antoinette and Lindsey (Jefferson) playing well. It’s not just a matter of putting on the uniform and getting a starting spot. She’s going to have to earn it from one of them, and that’s a good problem.”


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