Mesa volleyball seeded No. 7 at regional tournament
At least Dave Fleming won’t have to scramble to get a scouting report on the Colorado Mesa volleyball team’s first-round opponent in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
He just has to look at the game film from the past couple of weeks.
The Mavericks (18-9) drew the No. 7 seed in the South Central Region tournament and play Metro State (25-4), a team they faced twice in a five-day span earlier this month.
“I know it’s a school in downtown Denver, other than that, not much,” Fleming deadpanned Monday after the pairings were announced.
“With Metro losing in the (RMAC Tournament) final I didn’t know if Tarleton would bump up and I didn’t know if we would drop to eight behind Kingsville since they got past the first round (of the Lone Star Conference tournament). I would rather play Metro at this point than Tarleton or Angelo.”
Angelo State (31-3) received the No. 1 seed and will host the tournament the first weekend of December, facing Texas A&M Kingsville (26-9) in the first round. Colorado Mines (24-6), which upended Metro last week to win the RMAC Tournament championship, faces Arkansas-Fort Smith (24-5) in the other upper bracket quarterfinal.
Tarleton State (26-6) is seeded third and plays Regis (18-11), which knocked the Mavericks out of the conference tournament last week.
Fleming gave the Mavericks most of this week off for Thanksgiving, but they’ll return on Friday evening and start putting in a game plan for the Roadrunners, who went undefeated in the conference.
“We know what they can bring and what we have to do to stop them,” Fleming said. “We’re the ones that can have some fun with it. They’re not going to change anything. We’ve got enough depth and talent that we can throw a couple of curveballs at them early.”
Fleming isn’t about to give away any secrets about those curveballs, but did drop one hint about “putting eight on the floor…”
The Mavericks have lost five straight matches, but the good news is, competition in November is over — they went 0-5 this month.
“It’s kind of a second season. We struggled at the end and it left a bad taste in our mouths,” Fleming said. “This is a fresh start. Everybody in our gym thinks we have a shot against them. We’ve got to cut down on errors.
“Metro is a quality team and we have to force them into errors and cut down on ours. We can’t score points for our opponents, and some of that goes back to youth. They have a senior setter and senior outside who know what to do and when to do it.”
They might be underdogs, but the Mavericks are also playing in their third consecutive NCAA tournament. And, as he’ll remind his team, the No. 7 seed won the regional title when the Mavericks hosted the 2014 region tournament, when Arkansas-Fort Smith, admittedly playing with “house money” stunned the Mavericks in the title match to go to the Elite Eight.
“It’s hard to do,” Fleming said of reaching the NCAA tournament. “Our record at the beginning of the year helped us. We can take it as an opportunity as learning for our young kids, but we’re going down there to get a W, not for the barbecue.”