Mesa VB team’s slide continues

It was a match that should have been one to get the Colorado Mesa University volleyball team back on track.

Instead, it was another frustrating night for the Mavericks, who lost in five games to Western State Colorado University, their sixth straight loss.

“Killer instinct,” CMU coach Dave Fleming said. “Western State outworked us tonight.”

Christian Otzen had 19 kills and Kelly Regimbal 14, but after Colorado Mesa (13-9, 7-7 RMAC) ripped through the first game, things started to crumble, with Western State (3-19, 2-12) claiming a 17-25, 25-23, 25-22, 16-25, 15-12 win.

“We won Game 1 pretty easily and came out in Game 2 and were OK, but we’re just going back and forth and creating confidence on the other side of the net,” Fleming said. “That’s what we’ve been doing for six straight matches.”

Fleming tried everything, including leaving right-side hitter Kelly Regimbal in to serve and play back row instead of using defensive specialists, who were struggling to make good passes.

“We needed to make a change. The people we were putting in the back row for her weren’t getting it done, and she’s a senior,” Fleming said.

Regimbal, who uses a high toss on her jump serve, ripped back-to-back aces down the line on her first serving rotation for an 11-4 lead, with the Mountaineers ducking on the back line, hoping the ball would sail long.

Instead, it landed just inside the court.

The third one just missed the back corner, but after one of 15 serving errors by the Mountaineers, Otzen recorded a solo block, then connected on a cross-court kill as the Mavericks pulled away.

Up 24-16 after two more Regimbal aces — libero Sami Fuentes managed to dig one, but it sailed out of bounds — Regimbal served for game point. Fuentes got a good pass on that serve, but on the attack, Western State setter Molly Dolson slid under the net, awarding game point to the Mavericks.

They couldn’t celebrate, though, because outside hitter Haleigh Higgins was on the floor screaming in pain after landing on Dolson and badly spraining her right ankle.

“She’s a back-row setter, and (Higgins) jumped with the ball, and the setter came underneath the net,” Fleming said.

Higgins was on crutches after the match, the second ankle injury in the past two weeks for Mesa. Middle hitter Melissa Hess missed Friday’s match after injuring an ankle last weekend at Regis.

The Mavericks, who entered the weekend in the No. 8 slot in the overall conference standings, fell behind right off the bat in the final game. Otzen, who hit .432 in the match, with 19 kills and only three errors in 37 swings, had back-to-back hitting errors to open the set.

A stuff block by Regimbal closed the gap to 13-10, and Otzen came back with a kill that glanced off the Mountaineers’ block to make it 13-11.

After a Western timeout, Kallee Cool got a good set in the middle and put it straight down in an open spot in Mesa’s defense. A setting error gave Mesa another chance, down 14-12, but Dolson and Ashley Milan teamed up to block Rebecca Sellers’ attack on match point.

Mesa had more kills, assists and digs than Western State, and it had nine aces to seven serving errors, but the hitting efficiency told the story.

In the two sets the Mavericks won, they hit .276 and .320, respectively. The second and third sets, though, they had 24 total kills and 17 errors, and in the final game they managed only five kills and had seven attack errors.

“Seven attack errors and five kills,” Fleming said. “You’re not going to beat many junior high teams with those numbers.”

The loss to Western is one that will haunt the Mavs, who are two matches up on Fort Lewis for the final spot in the RMAC tournament.

“I told the team that (Western’s) job right now is to knock teams out of the RMAC tournament,” Fleming said, “and they took a step in that direction tonight.”


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