Mavs open tournament with thriller
Not until Ali Tompkins put the final point away Thursday did Dave Fleming feel comfortable in the first round of the RMAC volleyball tournament in Kearney, Neb.
Mesa State rallied time and time again for a 20-25, 25-22, 27-25, 19-25, 15-11 victory over Adams State.
“Ali had a big swing at the end,” Fleming said. “She did a great job in the back row again (15 digs to go with nine kills).
“We played tight, like at Fort Lewis. The kids have high expectations and have to learn how to play with those high expectations and play loose at the same time.”
The Mavericks (19-10) dropped two spots to No. 7 in the NCAA Division II Central Region rankings this week. Eight teams reach the regional tournament next week, so today’s semifinal match against No. 8 Metro State is crucial to help secure a spot.
“We explained (the rankings) before Fort Lewis and after, you can’t slip,” Fleming said. “The region is just too strong to have any of those slip-ups. The old region, fine, you might drop a spot, but now, you lose and you could be out.”
Concordia-St. Paul (30-0) is the top-ranked team in the region — and the nation — with Nebraska-Kearney No. 2 in the region and No. 3 in the nation.
Kearney is the only RMAC team ranked ahead of Mesa State in the region.
The Mavericks could never get a comfortable lead against the Grizzlies. After splitting the first two games, the Mavericks were down 19-15 before coming back to tie the game at 20-20.
The third game was tied 13 times and the Mavs finally got the advantage at 26-25 on a kill by Tessa Andrews. Freshman Kelly Regimbal, who subbed in midway through the game, recorded her only kill of the match on game point.
“It was that way the whole match,” Fleming said. “Adams should have won games 2 and 3, we just found a way to win.”
The Mavs took a 10-2 lead in the fourth game, but this time the Grizzlies found a way to win.
“Lindsey (Jefferson) had a great run, had 10 blocks, and a lot of them were in game 4,” Fleming said. “They got a couple of points and we just went south. I told the kids, ‘They get a couple of points, it doesn’t change who we are. Don’t let it change who we are, be confident.’ ‘’
Darcy Jennings-Calkins ended her stellar career at Adams State with 23 kills and 10 blocks.
Antoinette McCormick and Andrews each had 16 kills for Mesa State, Jefferson had nine kills and Tara King had 53 assists and 13 digs. Megan Rush and Meredith Dolny had 12 digs apiece and Whitney Howard added 10. Dolny had four service aces and McCormick three.
Fleming hopes the Mavs are over the tournament jitters today.
“We’ve been here before,” Fleming said. “You keep winning and they can’t send you home.”