Otzen helps Mavs snap 2-match skid

Christian Otzen was lightning in a volleyball uniform Thursday night, striking frequently with fury as Colorado Mesa University blitzed Regis University in three games to win a key RMAC match.

Regis was the preseason favorite to win the RMAC title this season and was a half-game ahead of the Mavericks (16-4, 8-3 RMAC) entering the match. Otzen, though, heated up at the end of Games 2 and 3 as the Mavericks closed strong each time and won the match 25-19, 25-22, 25-18.

They also kept their record perfect at home this season, 4-0, playing their first match back at Brownson Arena after a five-match road swing.

Otzen finished with 16 kills, and for the difference in the match, Mavericks coach Dave Fleming immediately spoke of his 5-foot-10 outside hitter from Flagstaff, Ariz.

“Look at Christian Otzen’s line,” he said. “That’s the big one right there. She had a great night.”

Otzen, a sophomore, finished with a .484 attack percentage. She had one hitting error in 31 attacks.

She spaced out her five kills in Game 1, then finished with a flurry in Game 2, delivering the Mavs’ final three points in a game that was close throughout. In the third game, Otzen produced four of her five kills during a stretch in which Colorado Mesa increased its lead from 17-12 to 23-13.

“We feel that every one of our hitters can get on a streak like that,” Fleming said. “And tonight was just Christian’s night. ... And (setter Jordyn) Moody did a good job of feeding her the ball.”

Otzen said the Mavericks needed to regain their confidence after dropping a pair of road matches last weekend, including one to RMAC leader Colorado Mines.

She said the Mavs can be whatever team they want to be, and Thursday they wanted to prove they’re a conference contender against a team that Fleming said has had their number the past couple of years.

“After last weekend we worked in practice this week on getting back to being a confident team,” Otzen said.

Otzen also worked on tempo, timing her jumps and getting high on them. Then, she turned practice into performance against the Rangers (12-9, 8-4 RMAC).

“I kind of just let myself go tonight,” she said. “Mentally, I didn’t think too much. I just wasn’t worried, and I played my game.”

Mesa also shined on defense, and one of the best examples was the blocking of Abby Ney and Audrey Steinkirchner, who made their presence felt in tandem with a couple of stuff blocks late in Game 2. The Mavs’ block total didn’t stand out on the stat sheet — one solo block, 10 block assists — but Fleming thought the Mavs made the Rangers redirect attacks.

“We were forcing their hitters to hit where they didn’t want to hit,” he said. “I thought we defended them well. It was tough for them to get a kill.”

For the game, Regis had an attack percentage of zero, a surprising number even from the Mavericks, who were limiting opponents to a .146 percentage, second best in the RMAC, coming into the match.

Moody led Mesa with 28 assists, and her 12 digs were one behind Erin Perez, who topped the team. Ney and Melissa Hess had five kills apiece, Otzen and Kricket Adleman each had two aces, and Sunni Rae Baird had 12 digs.


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