Mavs ditch cell phones, focus on volleyball

Mesa State College volleyball player Bria Lovato reaches for the pass during a practice drill at Saunders Fieldhouse. Standing 5 feet 10 inches, she’s one of a nine tall players on the team’s front line this year.

Normally if you tell a group of young women in the 18-22 age range to check their cell phones at the door for 23 of the 24 hours a day — for three straight days — there could be mutiny.

What? No phone calls? No texting? No tweeting?

“I like it,” middle hitter Antoinette McCormick said of the Mesa State College volleyball team’s annual trip to Aspen, where it’s all volleyball, all the time. “We don’t have cell phones, so we’re not connected to everybody.

“We have them for an hour a day, so it’s just team bonding. You forget everything stressful in your day and you focus on the positive.

“I think it helped a lot. If you have a problem, you talk to your teammates about it, because that’s your family during the whole school year.”

During the tech-free bonding in the high country, the Mavericks found out several things, and at the top of the list is that this is one team that’s got balance across the board.

For example, senior outside hitter Ali Tompkins, a three-year starter, probably won’t start tonight when Mesa State opens play in the Oredigger Classic in Golden. A hamstring injury kept her out of practice for a few days, and coach Dave Fleming said he’ll probably bring her off the bench as she plays her way back to full strength.

“I’m not worried about Ali,” he said. “She’ll catch up quick.”

With the 5-foot-10 all-conference player in a reserve role, Fleming will probably call on a 6-foot freshman, Kelly Regimbal, one of three tall front-line players in the freshman class.

“They were all a little bit wide-eyed when they got here, but they’re starting to look really good,” Fleming said of the new players. “Megan Rush (a 5-6 libero) is figuring it out on defense, but we’re really deep there, too.”

Meredith Dolny, a 5-7 senior, and Whitney Howard, a 5-6 junior, bring plenty of competition to be the libero to replace Ashley Loftsgard.

Everywhere else, there’s experience.

Bria Lovato, a 5-10 senior, also returns at outside hitter.

“Our two middles, Antoinette and Lindsey (Jefferson), are playing really well. They’re comfortable with what we’re doing,” Fleming said.

McCormick, a 5-10 sophomore, played quite a bit early last season when Jessica Bird was out with a broken thumb and has established herself in the rotation with Jefferson, the tallest Mav at 6-1.

Six-foot senior Tessa Andrews and 5-11 junior Meagan Bosch return at right-side hitter and 5-9 junior setter Tara King will run the show.

“It’s a very tough bunch,” McCormick said. “It’s really competitive. Everybody is fighting for their spots. Coach says we have good problems.”

The Mavs finished third in the RMAC West Division last season (16-13, 12-7 RMAC) and are determined to avoid the peaks and valleys of last fall.

“Coach is like us, he wants to win everything. We want to go to nationals,” McCormick said. “Everybody has the same goals and when it doesn’t turn out that way, we get frustrated.

“What he says usually puts a fire under us and gets us back playing.”


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