Mesa VB team picked to capture RMAC West
The Colorado Mesa University volleyball team has only one returning starter from a year ago, yet the Mavericks are expected to be RMAC West Division title contenders again.
The RMAC coaches picked Mesa to win the West Division and finish fourth in the RMAC this season. The Mavericks open Sept. 3 at the Oredigger Classic at Colorado School of Mines.
“I don’t think the RMAC coaches are very creative,” Mesa coach Dave Fleming said. “They probably thought we had Sarah Kemp coming back as well. Metro is a strong pick to be No. 1 with Kearney losing (All-American) Jeri Walkowiak.”
The coaches, though, voted Nebraska-Kearney to win the RMAC again with eight first-place votes. Metro State is picked second with six first-place votes. Mines is picked to finish third.
Coaches ranked teams 1-13 and were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Mesa’s lone returning starter, senior Antoinette McCormick, made the RMAC preseason all-conference team. The middle hitter from Grand Junction had 262 kills and 65 blocks last season.
Kemp, a 6-foot sophomore outside hitter from Bellevue, Neb., is ineligible.
Metro State senior outside hitter Bri Morley is the preseason player of the year and the only unanimous all-conference pick.
Her teammate, Ngoc Phan is the preseason defensive player of the year. Colorado Christian senior Lauren Rosenthas is the preseason setter of the year.
The Mavericks, who finished 20-9 last season, have several returning players, including juniors Megan Rush (5-7, libero), Rachael Beaty (5-6, libero/setter) and Kelly Regimbal (6-0, outside hitter).
Sophomores Rebecca Sellers (6-1, outside hitter), Sunni Rae Baird (5-6, libero/setter) and Haleigh Higgins (5-10, outside hitter) gained valuable experience and could play bigger roles this fall.
“We have the talent, what we don’t have is the experience,” Fleming said. “We have a new setter. That experience will be key in how comfortable we’ll be competing in the RMAC. There will be periods of inconsistency.”
The player who could help Mesa live up to the preseason expectations is Krista Ubersox, who returns for her senior season after taking three years off. She returned to Mesa to pursue a Master’s degree in business administration and use her final year of NCAA eligibility.
Ubersox last played for Mesa in 2007 when Tara King redshirted. King was the starting setter the past three years and is now playing professional volleyball in Denmark.
Ubersox, though, will be challenged by freshman Jordyn Moody, who was a high school All-American in Chandler, Ariz.
“It will be a good battle,” Fleming said. “Both are different setters than Tara. There will be an adjustment period for our returning hitters. Three practices in is too early to tell who’s going to be our quarterback.”
Mesa will co-host the Holiday Inn Crossroads Classic with Western State Sept. 8-10 at Brownson Arena.