Mavs slipping in standings
Mustangs take away Mesa's middle attack
Colorado Mesa had an opportunity to move into second place in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference with two volleyball matches left.
Instead, Western New Mexico rallied Friday night to defeat the Mavericks 18-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19 at Brownson Arena and move into position to host a first-round RMAC tournament match.
Colorado Mesa (19-7, 11-6 RMAC) has lost three of its past five matches and is in sixth place. The Mavericks are a half-game behind three teams tied for third place and 1½ games behind Western New Mexico.
Mesa was ranked seventh in the NCAA South Central Region earlier this week, but it likely will fall in the poll that determines NCAA tournament qualifiers.
“We have two teams coming in next week that are good teams,” CMU coach Dave Fleming said. “I know we have the talent and ability to win, but you can’t hope to win. You’ve got to do it.”
The Mustangs (20-5, 12-4 RMAC) hit .253 for the match and hit better than .300 in the second and third sets. Western New Mexico’s Kaysee Pilgrim had 17 kills, and Seluia Falealili had 14 kills.
“It’s big for us. We lost a tough one at our place against them,” Western New Mexico coach Jim Callender said.
Colorado Mesa hit .204 and was led by Melissa Hess with 17 kills. Christian Otzen had 11 kills, and Abby Ney had 10 kills and five block assists. Sunni Rae Baird had 21 digs, and Jordyn Moody made 44 assists.
The Mavs got off to a good start.
Mesa went on an 11-1 run early in the first game, led by Audrey Steinkirchner with four kills and two block assists. Otzen closed the set with a kill.
Western New Mexico adjusted to the Mavericks’ attack in the second game and didn’t look back.
“They like to run middle and right side,” Callender said. “After the first game, we were able to serve tougher and take them out of that play.
“We tried to run our right side more against their smaller block. Our outsides had to be patient. The bombs had to come from the right side.”
The Mustangs went on an 11-4 run for a 23-15 lead, with most of their kills coming from their outside hitters on the right side.
Western New Mexico led most of the third game and closed it out with a 4-0 run to go up two games to one.
“They were basically setting the ball to the right side of the court, and we had trouble stopping it,” Fleming said. “It’s a simple block. It’s something we work on every day.
“They’ve got to stop Steinkirchner in practice. They should be able to stop that swing, but we didn’t do it.”
Colorado Mesa and Western New Mexico went back and forth in the fourth set with 12 ties and six lead changes,
The Mavericks went on a 5-1 run for a 12-10 lead, but Western New Mexico came back with a 4-1 run for a 14-13 lead.
The Mustangs went on a 9-0 run with kills from Pilgrim in the middle for a 24-15 lead. Mesa strung together four consecutive points before Western closed the match.
“The bottom line, they were making plays,” Fleming said. “They were looking to make plays, and we were looking. We’re not asking them to do something they’ve never done before, but we’ve got to be disciplined in what we’re doing.”