Mavericks drop close battle with Metro in volleyball
Colorado Mesa refused to give up, and Metro State refused to lose.
In the end, the Metro State volleyball team persevered in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference thriller Saturday night at Brownson Arena.
The Roadrunners finally closed out the match on their third match point in the fifth game to defeat Colorado Mesa 25-27, 25-23, 25-13, 23-25, 20-18.
It was Colorado Mesa’s first home loss since Oct. 27, 2012, against then-No. 25 Adams State, ending a six-match win streak going back to last year.
“The kids showed a lot of heart,” Metro coach Debbie Hendricks said. “We took a hard loss (to Fort Lewis) last night. We had a long talk and showed some grit. This was a hard match to lose.
“Mesa is a really good team. We’re fortunate to beat them on their home floor. They are one of the best teams in the conference.”
The Roadrunners (13-8, 9-4 RMAC) moved into a five-way tie for second place in the RMAC with the Mavericks (17-5, 9-4 RMAC), Colorado Christian, Regis and Western New Mexico. Colorado Mines (18-4, 12-1 RMAC) is three matches ahead in first place.
Metro State was coming off a 3-2 loss to Fort Lewis on Friday night in Durango, but CMU coach Dave Fleming didn’t expect the Roadrunners to come in with a lack of confidence.
“Deb does a great job with her program,” Fleming said. “They beat Mines. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
Melissa Hess led Mesa with 21 kills and four blocks. Abby Ney had 16 kills, and Erin Perez had 11 kills and 19 digs.
“When Melissa Hess hits .383 and Abby Ney hits .316, you’ve got to get them the ball,” Fleming said. “If we don’t pass well, we can’t get them the ball.
“Melissa is a great player. If you give her opportunities to make plays, she’s going to do it.”
Alysa Heath led the Roadrunners with 25 kills. Lauren Quijano had 15 kills, and Kylie Haun had 11 kills.
“We couldn’t stop Heath,” Fleming said. “She had 62 swings and hit .258 and does the same thing.”
The Roadrunners took the third game for a 2-1 lead, but Mesa responded to force a fifth game.
The Mavericks tied the score 11-11 in Game 5 on a Hess block. Metro called timeout, and the Mesa crowd stood and roared. Hess came up with another block and two kills for a 14-13 lead and match point, but Metro’s Quijano had back-to-back kills for its first match point.
Hess answered with a kill, but the Mavs made a service error, then Ney kept Mesa alive with two kills for a 17-16 lead.
Mesa hit a serve long for its 12th service error of the match, and Heath’s kill gave the Roadrunners their second match point.
“The service errors were big, but that’s not the reason we lost the match,” Fleming said. “We need to get ourselves enough cushion so when we have a service error, it’s just a side out, and we win the match.”
Ney answered with another kill off the fingertips of a Metro player, but Metro got a block and closed out the match.
The match was a hard-fought battle from the start. Game 1 included 11 ties and three lead changes before Mesa won behind kills from Christian Otzen and Hess.
Metro State took a 7-4 lead in the second game and held on for a 25-23 win.
The Roadrunners got into a rhythm in the third set with a 9-2 run early and cruised to a 25-13 win.
“The third game we were not throwing punches,” Fleming said. “They were running whatever they wanted to run and serving tough.
“In the fourth game, we said we had to step up and serve tougher, get them out of system and force them to hit where they don’t want to hit. Erin did that with Hess on that block. Audrey (Steinkirchner) had some good touches. That’s what we’ve got to do. There was just a couple spots we weren’t consistent enough.”