Having a Ball
New Mesa outside hitter happy to be back in Colorado
Casey Ball wanted to experience what it’s like to be a long way from home. She learned being close to home isn’t so bad after all.
Hailing from a small farm town in northern Colorado, Ball went to Missouri Southern State University after capping a brilliant volleyball career at Eaton High School, where she was a two-time all-state player and led the team to the state final four twice.
She did well on the volleyball court for Missouri Southern. As a freshman, she was second on the team in kills (332) and fourth in digs (233), but it wasn’t enough.
“I realized how much I missed Colorado,” Ball said. “I missed my family being able to come and watch me. It is a big deal for me.”
Ball, who was recruited by Colorado Mesa University coach Dave Fleming out of high school, transferred to CMU this year.
She could’ve chosen a school closer to home, but she liked the CMU campus and the players on the team during her visit.
Ball got mononucleosis in the summer and worried it would affect her chances of playing for the Mavericks.
“I didn’t leave my bed for about two weeks,” Ball said. “I was really nervous coming into two-a-days.”
The sophomore outside hitter had enough strength to make a big impact for the Mavericks last weekend in their season-opening tournament. Ball had 24 kills and 44 attacks in the Mavericks’ 3-1 victory over St. Joseph’s (Ind.) College.
“That’s pretty rare numbers for the left side,” Fleming said. “She was real steady and dynamic. I think her legs got the best of her by the end of the tournament, but it’s nice to know she can.”
Ball is averaging 4.1 kills per game and is hitting .200 through four matches this season.
Ball said she’s probably 95 percent recovered from mono, and that may be enough for the Mavericks, who host the six-team Holiday Inn Crossroads Falls Classic this weekend.
Colorado Mesa (3-1) starts the tournament with a match against Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University at 7 tonight at Brownson Arena. Play begins at 10 a.m. Friday with some matches in the Hamilton Rec Center.
Other teams include Fort Hays State (Kan.) University, Texas Woman’s University, Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Western State Colorado University.
Three of the Mavs’ opponents haven’t lost this season. Texas Woman’s University hasn’t dropped a single game.
“We’ll see how good we are,” Fleming said. “It will be nice to play in front of the home crowd. The two big matches for us regionally are Texas Women’s and Oklahoma Panhandle.”
The Mavericks enter the tourney with confidence they gained from winning three of four matches at the Colorado Mines Oredigger Classic in Golden.
“After last year, we talked about not going to the Oredigger because it hasn’t been good luck for us,” Fleming said. “I was thinking to myself: We’ve got to beat that thing. It was one of those challenges to go in there and be successful. ... We are a lot more confident at this point than we were last year. The team has come a long way.”
Ball has made a big difference, and Fleming said she’s exceeding expectations to this point.
“The sky’s the limit for her,” he said. “She’s already putting up those type of numbers, and she can still get better. I think she can get more disciplined on what she’s doing.”