Happy Hattie: Gianinetti helps Mesa sweep N.M. Highlands
Now at full strength, Gianinetti helps Mesa sweep Highlands
A healthy Hattie Gianinetti makes for a happy Hattie Gianinetti — and a very happy Dave Fleming.
The junior middle blocker for the Colorado Mesa volleyball team has had a couple of nagging injuries this season, costing her three matches. Once she came back from an ankle injury, her left quad started acting up.
Saturday night, she showed she’s feeling much better.
Gianinetti recorded nine kills and an impressive .471 hitting efficiency (one error in 17 swings) in the Mavericks’ 25-21, 25-15, 25-15 sweep of New Mexico Highlands at Brownson Arena.
“I think I’m finally on the mend,” she said.
Mesa (13-3, 7-1 RMAC) has won five matches in a row and 12 of its past 13 sets after sweeping Colorado State-Pueblo and Highlands.
On one play in the second set, Gianinetti showed she’s back to full speed, running the slide to the right side for an attack, then hustling back to the middle and ranging to the left side of the net to team up with Allison Smith for a block and a 13-7 lead.
“I would say my legs do work again,” she said. “It’s good to get back in that rhythm and that fast pace that the middle position is.”
A kill by Gianinetti later on made it 23-14, and after Katie Scherr made a nice play to keep the ball alive at the net, the Mavericks got it to set point when Kristin Woody’s attack sailed wide for Highlands (5-8, 2-6).
Marissa Hoffman scored down the line, but after a long service return by MacKenzie Edwards, Ali Svorinic won a joust at the net to win the set.
Gianinetti made back-to-back kills in the third set, the second on a putback when a dig floated over the net, for a 7-5 lead, and she and Gabi Dias both put down authoritative kills down the stretch as Mesa pulled away.
“I just complimented her that she’s dynamic on the ball, she’s super-athletic when she’s contacting the ball, kind of setting the tone for everybody else,” Fleming said.
“That’s what we need. She was working really hard to be up in transition and that’s what we need our middles to do.
“We think she’s one of the better middles in the conference when she’s healthy and I think that showed tonight.”
A kill off the slide was followed by a middle attack by Gianinetti for a 21-13 lead, and Naomi Pinnecoose served two aces to get it to match point before a Highlands attack sailed long.
Edwards had 13 kills and Allison Smith eight for the Mavericks, who recovered quickly after Highlands made a run in the middle of the first set to tie it at 19-19.
“I love this team and love how we’re so balanced across the court and on the bench that we’re so deep that we can call on anyone to make the play,” Gianinetti said.
A nice set by Svorinic — she had 34 assists, the second night in a row she’s had more than the opposing team — led to a kill by Edwards, and at 21-19, she crushed a dig that came back over the net.
“They had that nice little run in the middle of the first set when they started serving tough and we were trying to do too much,” Fleming said. “After that I think we played (well). It’s hard to get easy wins in the RMAC. We’re pretty happy with the weekend.”
Svorinic and Camille Smith scored on a block, and at set point, the Mavs’ senior setter went right back to Edwards for a sizzling cross-court kill.
After winning the second set, Fleming challenged the Mavericks during the break to keep the pressure on.
They did, with their best hitting set of the match, 14 kills and four errors for a .312 efficiency. Gianinetti had five kills on six swings in the final set.
“That’s what we kind of emphasized between games two and three, being dynamic with the ball,” Fleming said.
“Don’t cruise in because we’re up 2-0, try to find a way to be dynamic and athletic, and that’s what those kids can do when they do that.”