Mesa VB team looks to rebound
At 13-3, everything was clicking for the Colorado Mesa University volleyball team.
Confidence was sky-high after ripping through the West Division of the RMAC with a 5-1 mark, then handling the first two teams from the East Division with relative ease.
The top of the East, though, despite national power Nebraska-Kearney’s departure, is still the cream of the crop, and the Mavs found that out, losing five straight matches. They were swept by Colorado Mines, then lost 3-1 decisions to Colorado Christian, Regis, CU-Colorado Springs and Metro State.
“It’s just one of those things; it’s a snowball effect,” CMU coach Dave Fleming said. “I think we were fairly confident at 13-3 going into those five matches against the East. We feel we’re really competitive and we can compete with those teams. It’s not like, ‘Holy cow, we’ll never be able to compete.’ But we haven’t been able to get over the hump, and I think it snowballs a little bit and kills our confidence, and we start pointing fingers and it snowballs some more.”
Fleming told the Mavericks (13-8, 7-6 RMAC) that all is well.
“We talked to them and said make sure the answer lies within, and if everybody does their job, we’ll be fine,” he said. “Still, no one scares me in the RMAC. We’ve got the young kids stepping into that ‘I’m the one who has to do it’ role, and that’s tough, but they’re playing.”
Freshman Christian Otzen leads the Mavericks, who return home to play Western State on Friday and Adams State on Saturday, with 205 kills, and freshman middle Abby Ney came up big last week when Melissa Hess landed on a teammate’s foot and sprained an ankle against Regis. Hess has not practiced this week, spending most of her time getting treatment and riding a stationary bike.
Sophomore outside hitter Casey Ball, who injured her left knee earlier this season, had surgery a couple of weeks ago. She’s still on crutches but is starting to put some light weight on her left leg, which is braced.
The RMAC begins the second half of division play this week, with the conference tournament Nov. 13-17. The format has changed slightly this season, with the top four teams in the conference standings hosting first-round matches Nov. 13. The first-round winners advance to the Final Four at the site of the highest remaining seeded team. Currently the Mavs are in the No. 8 spot with six matches to play.
Colorado Mesa has qualified for the RMAC tournament, but it needs two wins and some help to earn a first-round home game next Wednesday.
The Mavericks (9-4-3, 6-4-2 RMAC) play at 7 p.m. today at CSU-Pueblo (1-12-2, 1-10-1 RMAC) and at noon Sunday at Colorado Mines (12-4, 9-3 RMAC). Mesa defender Sam Burneo and midfielder Tayler Franklin will miss today’s game with concussions. They are questionable for Sunday.
Goalkeeper Sarah Schnetzler is the RMAC defensive player of the week. She had 14 saves and faced 28 total shots in a 1-0 victory over Metro State on Friday, then had six saves in a 1-0 loss to Regis on Sunday.
Mesa could use two wins to improve its chances of making the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season. The Mavericks are ranked eighth in the NCAA South Central Region. Six teams in the region qualify for the tournament.
Colorado Mesa is already in the RMAC tournament, but it could earn a first-round bye with two road wins this weekend.
The Mavericks (8-5-3, 6-4-2 RMAC) are in fifth place entering the weekend. They play a CSU-Pueblo (6-7-4, 4-5-4 RMAC) team sitting in seventh place with a chance to qualify for the tournament at 4:30 p.m. today in Pueblo.
Mesa plays Colorado Mines (10-4-2, 7-3-2) at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Golden. The Orediggers are in second place, three points ahead of the Mavs.
Mesa is 0-2-2 in its past four games and hasn’t scored in 300 minutes.
Swimming & Diving
Colorado Mesa divers Brock Martin and Amanda Jennings received the RMAC men’s and women’s diver of the week award for the third consecutive week.
Martin won three of four events entered, taking first in the 3-meter and second in the 1-meter at the Air Force Academy Invitational. The junior swept the 1- and 3-meter events in a meet against Adams State University and Western State Colorado University on Saturday. He has won seven diving events this season.
Jennings won the 1-meter event Saturday against Adams State and Western State for her first title this season. She placed fourth in the 1-meter and fifth in the 3-meter at the Air Force Invitational.
The Mavs swim against Mines at 1 p.m. Saturday in Golden.
Metro State, which went 25-7 last season, is ranked sixth in the Basketball Times men’s preseason poll. The Roadrunners are the only RMAC team in the top 20.
West Liberty, W.Va., which went 32-3 last season, is picked No. 1, followed by Bellarmine, Ky., and Washburn, Kan. Defending national champion Western Washington is ranked eighth.