Mavs’ sister act
Gianinettis carry Mesa to sweep of Western
It’s been awhile since Megan and Hattie Gianinetti were on the floor together in a volleyball match.
“Not since our senior year of high school. It’s pretty exciting,” Hattie said Tuesday after she and her twin sister led Colorado Mesa to a three-set sweep of Western State, 25-17, 25-15, 25-15, in the RMAC opener at Brownson Arena.
With different redshirt seasons and injuries, the twins from Carbondale couldn’t ever get in the rotation together until this season.
They’re both healthy and playing well for the Mavericks (7-2, 1-0 RMAC), Hattie in the middle and Megan on the right side.
“It’s really fun to be able to play with your sister and have fun, to get the opportunity to play with the team,” Megan said. “We have so much potential.”
Against the Mountaineers (1-9, 0-1), Hattie had nine kills in 15 swings, with only two errors, a .467 efficiency, and Megan had eight kills in 11 attacks with only one error, a .636 attack percentage.
Once the Mavericks got over some home-court jitters, they made quick work of the match, winning in 74 minutes. They never trailed, and only twice were tied, at 2-2 in the first set and 8-8 in the second.
Mesa made an uncharacteristic five service errors in the first set, in part because they were a little too energized from the crowd of more than 500, including a loud student section.
“First time playing at home, I think you forget how stinking great our crowd is,” CMU coach Dave Fleming said. “It’s so much fun to play here and no fun for anybody else. You forget how fun it is to play in front of that and it provides some extra energy, and you’ve got to temper a little bit when you’re back there serving.”
A hitting error got Western State within one point, 15-14, in the first set before MacKenzie Edwards, who led CMU with 10 kills, put a cross-court shot away. That sparked a five-point run, with Megan Gianinetti taking a back set from Samantha Ritter for a kill.
After a couple of sideouts, Megan Gianinetti served an ace to get it to set point, but her next serve landed in the net. No matter — her sister put the set away by sliding from the middle to the right side for a kill.
“It felt good,” Hattie said of getting her timing down on the slide, which, when executed correctly, has the blockers out of position and is nearly indefensible. “I love the slide.”
After the early jitters, Mesa had only three more service errors in the match and had six aces, three from Megan Gianinetti and two from Ritter.
Katie Scherr, who had six kills, recorded back-to-back kills to give CMU a big lead in the final set, first going cross-court for a 9-3 lead, then sending an attack skipping down the net tape from the left-hand side to the right, where it fell into the front corner of Western’s side of the net.
Back-to-back aces by Megan Gianinetti pushed CMU’s lead to 21-11, and Ritter tipped the ball across for a point on an over pass. Hattie Gianinetti and Scherr teamed up for a block for a 23-11 lead.
A flurry of CMU errors cut the lead to 23-15 before Ara Norwood gave Hattie Gianinetti a quick set in the middle to get it to match point, and a Western hitting error ended it.
Fruita Monument graduate Jordan Eatwell made her final appearance at Brownson for the Mountaineers. The senior finished with four kills and five digs.
Western couldn’t hit with any efficiency against Mesa’s defense, with 26 kills in 86 attacks, a .081 percentage.
“Megan’s been super solid for us all year and in the last set, that final slide Hattie had, I was like, ‘OK, there’s Hattie.’ That’s good to see. She’s getting comfortable with a new setter, it’s her third setter the past three years. Sam (31 assists) did a really nice job running what we wanted.”
A 4-0 start and a victory over then-No. 7 St. Edward’s (Texas) catapulted the Mavericks into the top 10 in the United Soccer Coaches Division II poll this week.
Colorado Mesa, which opens RMAC play Friday night at home against Colorado School of Mines, jumped from No. 16 to No. 6 this week.
CMU is the top-ranked team in the South Central region, two spots above Midwestern State. Although the national poll doesn’t determine regional seeds, four nonconference wins against regional opponents will be a key factor.