Mavericks hammer Griffins
Dave Fleming really likes this Colorado Mesa volleyball team.
And why wouldn’t he? Not only have the Mavericks won eight straight matches, but they’re winning in every way imaginable.
“I think we have depth. We’re not completely healthy and any given night we feel we can score from a lot of different spots,” Fleming said Saturday night after the Mavericks swept Westminster College 25-11, 25-16, 25-22. “It’s a good problem for us to have.”
MacKenzie Edwards has been the go-to hitter, but the Mavericks showed just how balanced they are in their home debut.
Senior outside hitter Gabi Dias had 15 kills in 24 swings, a crisp .542 hitting average (she had only two hitting errors), with Edwards, a sophomore outside, recording eight kills.
Then there was Palisade High School graduate Alyssa Chutka, a sophomore middle, who, along with freshman outside Katie Scherr, had seven kills.
Bottom line, the Griffins (2-8, 0-2 RMAC) didn’t know where the attack was coming from.
“I guess it’s hard for them to figure out where the ball is going,” Dias said. “We have three good hitters in front so they don’t know if Ali (Svorinic, CMU’s setter) is going to set one, if she’s going to move ... they don’t know who the ball is going to.”
In the third set, Mesa showed even more depth, with Camille Smith, a freshman middle, getting the hot hand, so she got the ball for three straight kills early on.
“Speaking as a middle, it’s hard to read where the ball is going, especially if there’s a middle coming, you don’t know if (the setter is) going to push away or where you should go,” Chutka said of how the Mavericks had the Griffins completely out of sorts on the front line. “Sometimes you’re late on a block, which really sucks, but ...”
Chutka had only three errors in 13 attempts, and in the first set, the Mavericks (8-2, 2-0) were in rhythm. They connected on 16 of 26 attacks, with three errors, an even .500 average.
On the flip side, Westminster had 24 kills and 21 hitting errors, a .030 efficiency.
“We’ve played 10 games now so we’re starting to get in the flow of things now and figuring out what works and what doesn’t,” she said. “It’s nice being ... not comfortable, but kind of having a plan going in.”
Saturday, they were without junior middle Hattie Gianinetti, who didn’t suit up, but with so much depth, they didn’t miss a beat. Gianinetti’s twin sister, Megan, rotated in at outside hitter in the second set and the Mavericks went right to her for a kill.
A bit of a letdown in the second set, when Westminster tied it at 10-10, prompted Fleming to call timeout for a stern talking-to. Immediately, Chutka got a set and slammed home a kill, followed by a kill from Edwards and a ballhandling error by Westminster for a 13-10 CMU lead.
That was as close as the score was the rest of the way, with Dias and Megan Gianinetti trading kills down the line and Kricket Adleman adding a service ace in a four-point run to get it to game point.
Mesa raced to a 14-7 lead in the third set and Fleming started getting some players in off the bench, and Westminster started chipping away.
At 22-21, Chutka got another good set in the middle, but Westminster stayed in it, tying the set at 23-23. A miscommunication got it to match point for Mesa, and Dias again went down the line for the winner.
“Ali did a great job finding the hot hitter and distributing for everyone, setting everyone,” Dias said.
“The thing about our team is,” Chutka added, “is I don’t feel you can just zero in on one player, because everyone is consistently good.”