Mesa VB team loses in five sets at regional
One more push.
That’s all the Colorado Mesa volleyball team needed Thursday in the NCAA Division II South Central Region quarterfinals, but Metro State rallied for a five-set victory in San Angelo, Texas.
“That’s what I told them, we were one dig short, one overpass kill somewhere and we were right there,” CMU coach Dave Fleming said after the Mavericks lost 22-25, 25-20, 16-25, 25-22, 15-9.
Led by sophomore outside hitter MacKenzie Edwards’ career-high 25 kills, the Mavericks were four points from advancing to the semifinals, leading 21-20 in the fourth set. Metro State, though, scored three straight points, forcing Fleming to call time, down 23-21.
Hattie Gianinetti got CMU within one, 23-22, with a kill, but Santaisha Sturges got it to set point and an attack error by Katie Scherr sent it to a fifth set.
Scherr, a 5-foot-11 freshman outside hitter, finished with 14 kills as Fleming shook up the lineup to give Mesa a bigger, more physical presence on the front line.
“She won game 3 for us taking huge rips,” Fleming said. “She was huge for us and had a good block against one of their better attackers, (Ryan) Hoerdemann, played good defense.”
After the teams split the first two sets, Edwards took control with CMU (18-10) trailing 8-7. Five straight kills gave the Mavericks a 12-8 lead and prompted Metro to take a timeout to figure out a way to slow her down.
It didn’t work — eight of her kills came in the third set, with Scherr adding four kills in the set and holding Hoerdemann to only one kill in the set.
Fleming also used Megan Gianinetti on the front line, always having three big blockers at the net.
“Megan’s stats don’t show what she did,” Fleming said. “She disrupted what their attackers wanted to do. She gives us a bigger block than Gabi (Dias) and they weren’t comfortable with that.”
Gianinetti, who had four kills, was not credited with a block, but got her hands on several attacks to keep the ball from hitting the floor. Hattie Gianinetti had seven kills and freshman Camille Smith, in her first match as a right-side hitter, had five kills and three blocks.
“She’s a bigger block and the setters feel comfortable setting her anywhere,” Fleming said of Smith, a 6-footer who has played middle all season.
The fifth set was tied five times.
The Mavericks led 5-2 after a kill by Edwards and an attack error by Hoerdemann, but back-to-back attack errors by Hattie Gianinetti and Edwards tied it at 5-5.
Down 9-8, Edwards took a set from Hana Peterman, one of three setters the Mavericks used to always have three bigs on the front row, and put it away for her 25th kill.
Edwards was also exceptional on defense, with 30 digs, and libero Taylor Woods had 19.
The kill to tie the match at 9-9 was the final one for Edwards. Metro scored five of the final six points to advance.
“She was lights-out tonight. The only mistake we made at the end of the match was we didn’t get her the ball enough. Zie was the hot hitter and we couldn’t find her enough,” Fleming said.
Sky Hirsch won the men’s 50-yard freestyle in the first day of the three-day A3 Performance Invitational at El Pomar Natatorium, with several Mavericks reaching national or provisional qualifying standards.
The Colorado Mesa junior touched the wall in 20.75 seconds, a nationals “B” cut. The men’s 200 free relay team of Eric Berg, Chris Radomski, Morgan Bean and Hirsch won in 1 minute, 22.62 seconds, another “B” cut time.
Sage D’Ambrosia won an all-CMU 3-meter diving competition, scoring 508.9 points, easily qualifying for nationals, as did Noah Macomber, Shane Gilman and Eric Lammon.
Also earning “B” times were Sam Bryant in the 500 free, the women’s 200 free relay team, Madeli McClain in the 500 free and Sam White in the 500 free.
Cassi Blakeman won the women’s 1-meter diving with 466.5 points, reaching qualifying standards, and the Mavericks won the 400 medley relay to qualify for nationals.