Mesa State denied berth in regional volleyball
Dave Fleming was stunned Sunday evening when he opened the NCAA Division II volleyball tournament selections.
He expected to see Mesa State (19-11) in the No. 8 spot, playing the No. 1 team in the nation, Concordia-St. Paul.
Instead, Colorado School of Mines had jumped up two spots and took that slot. The Mavericks were nowhere to be found, and as the shock wore off, Fleming wanted answers.
“The bottom line is, we’re 18-4 in the region and we should be in the regional tournament,” the fifth-year Mesa State coach said. “Bottom line. You go 18-4 against teams within your region, the teams you’re competing against, and you don’t make the top eight? I think we did our job.”
In matches against the RMAC and Northern Sun, the two conferences that make up the Central Region, Mesa State lost to Nebraska-Kearney in five games (the Lopers are the No. 3 seed in the tournament), Metro State in five games (No. 7), Mines in five games (No. 8), and Fort Lewis, which did not make the RMAC tournament.
The Mavs swept Metro State in Denver and also swept Minnesota State Moorhead of the Northern Sun Conference in the opening weekend of the season.
“They’re taking us out for one bad loss (Fort Lewis),” Fleming said. “Teams up there (in the Northern Sun) had bad losses.”
The Northern Sun does not have a conference tournament, but two teams that made the regional lost on the final weekend.
Wayne State (the No. 4 seed) lost 3-1 to Moorhead (21-12). Minnesota State Mankato (No. 5) lost 3-1 to Northern State (12-16). Both of those teams stayed where they were in Thursday’s regional poll when the final rankings were released.
“This is the best team I’ve ever had at Mesa State, the deepest team I’ve ever had, and they should be in the NCAA tournament,” Fleming said.
He’ll meet with his team today, not for practice as they expected, but to try to explain what he can’t explain.
“I’ll tell them they’re the best and deepest team I’ve had at Mesa and they deserve to be playing in the postseason,” Fleming said. “Unfortunately, it’s not up to them; it’s up to a committee sitting around a table.
“I can’t think about next year. All I can think about is Ali (Tompkins), Tessa (Andrews), Meredith (Dolny) and Bria (Lovato). That’s it for them. It’s not fair to them.”
Andrews, a senior right-side hitter, made the RMAC all-tournament team.
“The four seniors deserve an answer. They had a great tournament, a great season and they deserve to move on,” Fleming said.
“Yeah, I’ll remember this and I’ll remind the kids of this next year.”