Mesa State setter has luxury of hard hitters in three-game sweep

PHOTO BY DANIELLE STOMBERG—Tara King and Lilndsey Jefferson go up for a block during Satruday night’s game against New Mexico Highlands.

Tara King felt just a little bit spoiled the past two nights.

It seemed anyone she set was ready to put the ball down on the other side of the net.

“There were a lot of people there. It was awesome. That’s nice as a setter,” King said.

King recorded 40 of the Mavs’ 41 assists, proving that the offense truly runs through the sophomore setter from Steamboat Springs, in a three-game sweep of New Mexico Highlands, 25-20, 25-16, 25-22 at Brownson Arena.

For the second straight night, the Mavericks’ defense kept the ball in play, holding the opponent to under .100 hitting efficiency. Highlands had more hitting errors than kills in the first game and ended up with only seven more kills than errors, hitting .073.

“One thing we’re doing better is we’re frustrating teams with our defense. With (Meredith) Dolny out there, she makes a difference. She brings a real nice energy,” Mesa State coach Dave Fleming said of the 5-9 junior transfer from North Idaho College who missed the first two weeks with a wrist injury.

“She’s not terminating the ball up front, but she’s taking it away from other people who want to be terminating.

She makes people around her better.”

On the other side, the Mavericks (4-5, 2-0 RMAC) were again solid on the attack, hitting .212, with twice as many kills (42) as errors (21).

Alisan Tompkins was the only Mesa State hitter in double figures with 13, but Meagan Bosch had nine,
Antoinette McCormick six, Lindsey Jefferson five and Corinne Cascioppo, who rolled an ankle minutes before the match began, and Gabrielle Lovato four each.

And the one assist King didn’t make? She got the kill.

Up 15-13 in the first game, the Mavericks rattled off five of seven points, and when McCormick picked up a pair of kills around one by Cascioppo, the Mavericks were firmly in control, 23-17.

Cascioppo played in spots in all three games but the tweaked ankle had her hampered.

No worries, Lovato was up to the task, throwing up a key solo block in the third game to give the Mavericks an 11-10 lead in the closest game of the match.

The game was tied 12 times, but once Highlands (4-5, 0-2 RMAC) tied it at
18-18, the Cowboys made three straight errors, and Lovato got a kill for a 21-18 lead.

And, just like Friday night, when it came down to match point, King knew just who was going to get the ball.

Enter Tompkins, who cranked up her strong right arm one more time, knocking the ball off the block of Kelsey Groff for a second straight sweep.

“Everyone wants the ball, which just recently happened,” King said. “Everyone wants the ball every single point and that gives me as a setter a lot of confidence. I feel pretty confident setting anyone when we need a point.

“It just depends on who’s up there and what the block’s doing on the other side of the net. It’s nice to have options.”

And it was nice to have two quick wins at home before the Mavs head back on the road this week, playing Friday night at Fort Lewis and Saturday night at Western State.

“I think we just got sick of losing,” King said. “We just decided it was make or break time in front of the home crowd. We’ve had a great crowd out. Everybody got sick of losing. It was time to do it.”


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