Mavs open renovated gym with sweep
Dave Fleming figured if you’re going to christen a new gym, you might as well dress for the occasion.
The Mesa State College volleyball coach rarely wears a tie to matches, opting instead for an open-collared shirt and slacks, but he made an exception Friday night.
He donned a Mesa State tie and a suit coat when the Mavericks played the first match at the newly renovated Brownson Arena.
“It’s a new house,” he said of his attire. “You’ve gotta open the new house.”
And the Mavs opened the new house right, sweeping Western State 25-19, 25-14, 25-23 in front of a raucous student section that quickly filled the east stands. Midway through the first game, the new upstairs bleachers were opened to accommodate the crowd.
“Great game environment,” said Fleming, who applauded the student section after the match.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a bigger student crowd. That was really nice to see. For a 4-7 team? I’ll take that.”
With the Mavericks’ entire front line clicking, all setter Tara King had to do was play eenie-meenie-miney-mo when it came time to set up the attack.
“I have the best choices of any setter in the RMAC,” said King, who had 42 assists.
Tessa Andrews had 15 kills, Ali Tompkins 14 and Antoinette McCormick and Bria Lovato seven each for the Mavericks (5-7, 3-0 RMAC), who host Fort Lewis at 7 tonight.
“It’s really fun. It gives me a chance to play with the block a lot, to see what the other side is doing,” King said. “I have so many options. They bite on one person and the other person has the one-on-one. It’s so fun.”
And when the Mavericks weren’t picking their spots to attack, they were keeping balls alive by controlling the net and digging Western’s attack off the floor.
Defensive specialist Megan Rush had 11 digs.
With Tompkins’ reputation as a big hitter, teams often try to load up the block against her. But the play of Andrews, this week’s RMAC offensive player of the week, has thrown a wrinkle into those defensive plans, and McCormick makes it impossible to cover everything.
The three figured out when they could swing away and when they needed to tip over the block. And if Western kept the ball alive, the Mavs just loaded up again.
“We all try to talk to them, whoever’s on the floor around them covering tries to call out shots, but our hitters are pretty smart on their own,” King said. “They know the shots, we just kind of reinforce it.
“I didn’t have to decide too many things. All of my hitters were on and making smart choices.”
The only truly close game was the third, when Western State (1-10, 1-2 RMAC) hung with Mesa State and tied it at 18-18 before Tompkins and Andrews recorded back-to-back kills.
At match point, Western’s Jamie Hamsa’s dig on an attack floated over the net and Lovato was waiting to slam home the final point.
“Ali and Tessa did a good job of terminating and Antoinette showing the middle was available,” Fleming said. It was a good first night at home.”
Mesa State’s Kate Lowder, Kelleen Sera and Victoria Sargent advanced to the round of 16 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Central Regional tournament in Kearney, Neb.
Lowder and Sargent and the Sera twins, Kelleen and Kaitlan, are also still in the winners’ bracket in the doubles draw.
The ITA Central Regional continues through Sunday.