Lovato’s big hitting powers Mesa to RMAC win over CSU-Pueblo

Mesa State not only got a win against CSU-Pueblo but something it can build upon for future matches.

The Mavericks (11-11, 9-6 RMAC)  overcame a 19-13 deficit in the third game to defeat the ThunderWolves 25-23 and complete a sweep, 25-22, 25-15, 25-23 win.

“That was a good win for us,” Mesa State coach Dave Fleming said. “We did a good job of fighting back, and when they got up on us, it was good to see that we had a little bit of fight in us.”

Fleming said being able to fight back when down is something the Mavericks have struggled with all season. But in the third game, when Pueblo (4-19, 2-13 RMAC) had its 19-13 lead, the Mavericks used big kills by Alisan Tompkins to cut the gap. Two Gabrielle Lovato kills gave Mesa the win.

“It is very important that we could come back,” said Lovato, who led the Mavs with 15 kills. “We have struggled with that in the past so it was nice to come together as a team and finish it.”

Mesa won the first two games with relative ease. A kill by Jessica Bird clinched the game and sparked the Mavs to a 10-point win in the second.

The win broke a two-match losing streak, including a 3-0 loss Friday night to Adams State.

“This is pretty important for our confidence,” Fleming said. “I believe in these kids and believe we can do some damage in the RMAC tournament, but you have to have confidence going in, so this was important.”

The Mavericks were led by Lovato’s 15 kills and five aces.

“She had a good match for us,” Fleming said. “She had some good big swings and she always brings it with her serve.”

Tompkins had nine kills, six digs and four blocks.

“Ali Tompkins had a good game,” Fleming said. “She had some nice digs and did some things you don’t see in the stat sheet.”

Mesa State setter Tara King had 31 assists and Bird added six kills and five blocks.

The match was the first time former Palisade High School volleyball standout Bernadette Pitre returned home to play.

The 5-foot-11 freshman middle blocker had four kills for the ThunderWolves, including two early in the first game.

“It was so nice to have a home crowd again,” Pitre said. “It was fun and probably the best I have played in three weeks. Maybe I fed off of the crowd a little bit.”

Pitre is seventh on the team in kills this season.

“It has been an easy transition into college,” Pitre said. “I am glad I am getting to play my freshman year because I can adjust and only go up from here.”

Mesa State wraps up the home schedule next weekend against Western State and Fort Lewis.


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