Not quite enough
Mavs fall to Cougars in RMAC
Colorado Mesa kept fighting back, but it wasn’t enough.
Colorado Christian held off the Mavericks’ volleyball team for a 25-19, 25-21, 26-28, 28-26 victory in the first round of the RMAC tournament in front of 814 fans on Tuesday night at Brownson Arena.
The Cougars (20-10) advance to the semifinals on Friday night in Golden. Christian plays Metro State (18-10), which defeated No. 2 seed Western New Mexico in five sets in Silver City, N.M. The Mavericks were eliminated and are unlikely to get an NCAA tournament bid next Monday.
“You have to give a lot of credit to CCU,” Colorado Mesa coach Dave Fleming said. “We didn’t play our best match. That’s what happens when you have good teams on the other side of the net.”
Abby Ney led the Mavericks with 16 kills and a .368 hitting percentage. Casey Ball had 12 kills, Melissa Hess had 12 and Christian Otzen finished with eight. Jordyn Moody had 45 assists and Sunni Rae Baird had 21 digs.
Mesa (21-8) hit .095, its worst percentage other than a straight-set sweep by Angelo State (Texas) the first weekend of the season.
“We didn’t have terminating velocity,” Fleming said. “We weren’t hitting the ball real hard. Abby was, but nobody else could find their rhythm. They were serving tough, but usually we find a way. We just didn’t find it tonight.”
Colorado Christian hit .190, had 81 digs and 14 blocks.
“Every time CCU plays Mesa it is a fight,” CCU coach Verlyn Rosenthal said. “We came out in that first game and it looked a little lopsided early, but a Dave Fleming-coached team is not going to stay like that.
“(Mesa’s) fans were amazing. We’re happy to get out with a win. That’s a good volleyball team.”
Colorado Christian took command early, building a 16-7 lead in the first set. The Mavericks rallied to cut the lead to five a couple of times, but the Cougars answered and won the first set 25-19.
“We were just flat,” Fleming said. “Part of being in tournaments is being comfortable in those situations. It’s something we’ve fought the last six weeks. We always seem to come back and fight. Against a good team, it’s going to bite you.”
Early in the second set, the up official had to leave after becoming ill and didn’t return. After a lengthy timeout, the floor official moved up, one of the corner flag officials moved to the floor position and a person from the audience filled the second corner flag position.
The Mavericks put together a 5-1 run for a 13-8 lead when play resumed. A few points later, Hess ended a long rally with a kill for a 16-12 lead, but the Cougars responded with a 5-0 run for a 17-16 lead. Christian pulled away for a 25-21 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
“I feel like our defense stepped up a hair tonight,” Rosenthal said. “We had a couple players trade off struggling, but I liked how our team came around them. I’m proud of our fight.”
Mesa took an early 10-5 lead in the third set, but saw the Cougars come back to even the score at 17-17. The teams were tied seven more times before Mesa finished it 28-26 on its third set point. The Mavs fought off one match point in the flurry.
The teams were tied 12 times in the fourth set, but the Cougars always seemed to grab the lead out of those ties.
Mesa eventually took the lead and had a set point at 26-25, but the Cougars came back with a kill, ace and block to close the match.
“Every match has always gone four or five games,” Rosenthal said. “That match could’ve just as well gone five as not. How often do you see a game like Game 4 where there wasn’t more than a two-point lead? They were just fighting and scrapping.”