Mesa volleyball team rises to challenge

Colorado Mesa’s volleyball team was challenged again and this time it answered.

The Mavericks thwarted a CSU-Pueblo rally Friday night for a 25-14, 25-17, 21-25, 25-23 victory at Brownson Arena.

“I told them if you fight like that from zero to 75, you’re going to be a stinking tough team to beat,” CMU coach Dave Fleming said. “I told them remember that fight we had at the end of game four and we’re good to go. That’s the team we see in practice. They’re relaxed, they’re making plays, they’re not trying to do too much.”

The Mavericks (20-7, 12-6 RMAC) are in a four-way tie for fourth place in the RMAC with one match left. The four teams are a half-game behind Adams State (15-12, 13-6 RMAC) for third place.

“I felt (the win) was more important for our mind,” setter Jordyn Moody said. “We lost the last (match) and were so down. This win brought us back to Maverick volleyball. It pulled everyone back to who they are. It was more important for us than any standing.”

The five teams battling for the third through seventh spots are all trying to avoid the seventh spot and a trip to Silver City, N.M. for the first round of the tournament on Tuesday.

Mesa can finish anywhere from third place to seventh place depending on tonight’s matches. The Mavs host New Mexico Highlands (12-16, 6-12 RMAC) at 7 p.m.

Christian Otzen and Melissa Hess led the Mavericks with 13 kills each. Abby Ney had 11 kills and a .435 hitting percentage. Mesa got 25 kills from its middle blockers and 24 from its outside hitters.

“It was a balanced attack,” Fleming said. “What we’ve got to avoid is the consecutive errors. We’re good when we grind it out. That goes to our forte, which is defense and transition.”

Senior libero Sunni Rae Baird, who was honored before the match on senior night, had 18 digs. Moody had 43 assists, nine digs and six blocks.

“Nobody was going to let our team lose on Sunni’s home weekend,” Moody said. “She doesn’t deserve that.”

Mesa took the first two sets with little trouble, limiting the ThunderWolves to a negative 1.4 hitting percentage while hitting .236.

CSU-Pueblo (10-18, 7-11 RMAC) responded in the third set as it exchanged leads with Mesa four times and was tied eight.

Eventually, the ThunderWolves went on a 9-4 run to win it 25-21. The Mavs had five attack errors during the ThunderWolves’ run.

The ThunderWolves continued to ride the momentum of its win in the third set and built an 8-2 lead in the fourth. Pueblo kept attacking and led 12-5.

“Coach always says somebody needs to step up and everyone else will follow,” Moody said. “I decided that will be me this game. Then everybody else did follow. I was super happy. Everyone lifted their spirits and we were going to win it.”

Moody had one kill, two blocks, two digs and nine assists in the fourth set.

“She deserves a lot of credit for that,” Fleming said. “When you make a run like that you have to find the right hitters.”

Hess delivered a big kill after a long rally leading to a Pueblo timeout in the middle of a 9-1 run to tie the match at 17-17.

Ney and Otzen had back-to-back kills to give Mesa its first lead of the set at 18-17. Hess and Erin Perez had a block for a 22-21 lead then Hess had another kill to set up match point and the victory.


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