Regis’ height bothers Mesa in volleyball loss
So. Much. Size.
And when the middle hitters for No. 14 Regis got going, there was no stopping them Friday night. Colorado Mesa’s volleyball team had a chance to win the first set, but when it slipped away, so did their chance of the upset, losing 25-23, 23-20, 25-15.
The Mavericks had the Rangers on their heels and the 722 fans at Brownson Arena erupting as they went toe-to-toe with the bigger Rangers at the net.
When Sam Ritter and Hattie Gianinetti blocked Caitlyn Burroway for an early 4-3 lead and Gianinetti put the next point away on a middle attack, the Mavericks had the momentum and the crowd was going crazy.
They built a 14-9 lead on an ace by MacKenzie Edwards, but that seemed to spark Nikki Kennedy, the Rangers’ 6-foot-4 middle, a sophomore transfer from the University of Denver, and Kristen Hornung, a 6-2 junior middle, who had nine kills each.
“The middles started getting kills and it changed everything we were doing on our side of the net,” CMU coach Dave Fleming said. “Why does it? That’s what I was talking to them about, sideout right back.
“They’ve got good middles, so do we. Obviously their middles played very well and we’ve got to get more than one dig (off the middle attack) against a really good RMAC team.”
The Mavericks (8-3, 2-1 RMAC) were four points away from winning the first set, leading 21-16 on a kill by Edwards off a block attempt, but couldn’t put it away.
Hornung got a kill and then blocked Megan Gianinetti on back-to-back points to cut the lead to 21-18, and after a CMU error, Burroway made it 22-21 with one of her seven kills.
A CMU hitting error tied it at 22-22, and Regis took its first lead on a kill by outside hitter Caitlyn Martinez. Another attack error by Mesa gave Regis a set point, but Katie Scherr went cross-court for a point and got the serve back.
Regis went to Kennedy, who put the ball down in the middle for the set and took the life out of the crowd.
“They’re (11-1) for a reason. They’re solid,” Fleming said.
“We’ve got to play good volleyball. We’ve got good middles, the setter found them at the right time. We just can’t change who we are based on what they do on their side of the net. We’ve got to learn from it and stay aggressive.”
Fleming tried to find the right combination to defend the middle attack, but nothing seemed to work.
“I was just looking for a middle who would make a play on defense,” he said. “They’re tall, but they don’t have a tendency to hit over us much. They still hit through us or around us, something we can block. I was just looking for a middle to make a play.”
Mesa led 12-9 in the second set before the Rangers came roaring back, going on a seven-point run to turn CMU’s 13-10 lead into a 17-13 Regis advantage.
When Mesa did finally stop the run, a serving error gave Regis the ball right back.
“We just under-utilized the crowd,” Fleming said. “We didn’t give them anything to cheer about. We needed that second point (after a sideout). We’d miss a serve after a great rally.”
Edwards led all hitters with 11 kills and Hattie Gianinetti had six. Regis’ size didn’t dominate the hitting as much as the blocking — Kennedy had two solo blocks and four assists, Horning four assists, with the Rangers recording 11 total blocks, the Mavericks only one, that combo early in the first set.
Fleming lamented letting the first set get away.
“I’m not saying we would have won this match because Regis is a really good team, but we’d still be playing,” he said. “We get it to five, then who knows?”
Malik Mennana’s header was the only goal the Mavericks needed in a 1-0 victory at Adams State.
Mennana headed a ball from Trentin Atkin past Austin Baumeister 28 minutes, 57 seconds into the game, and the defense did the rest, allowing the Grizzlies (4-2-1, 1-1 RMAC) only three shots, two on goal, both of which were saved by Briley Guarneri, who recorded his fifth shutout of the season.
The No. 10 Mavericks (6-1, 2-1) took eight shots in each half, six total on goal. The Mavericks had three good chances to build on the lead late in the first half, but Mennana’s shot six minutes before halftime hit the post, and Moshe Perez was wide on two others. Perez put a shot on goal less than three minutes into the second half but Baumeister made the save.
The flair for the late-game drama once again served CMU well, with Alexis Allard scoring with less than 10 minutes to play for a 1-0 victory at Western State for the Mavs’ first conference victory.
Allard took on Western keeper Katie Simpson-Johnson and beat her at the 80:39 mark, and the Mavericks withstood four shots by the Mountaineers (2-3-1, 1-3 RMAC) in the final seven minutes for the win. Paige Massey’s bid to tie the game for Western at the 82:17 mark hit the post. Three more shots went wide.
Each team took 19 shots, with 11 of Mesa’s on goal. Emily Signorio made seven saves for the Mavericks (4-3-3, 1-1).