Senior sendoff: Mavericks dominate Mustangs in final match at Brownson Arena
Six points — that’s how often Western New Mexico was in the lead Tuesday night at Brownson Arena.
The Mesa State College volleyball team flatly refused to give the Mustangs any kind of momentum, especially in the final home match of the season and the final home match for the Mavericks’ four seniors.
Mesa State won another RMAC West Division match in a three-game sweep, 25-23, 25-23, 25-16, to close out the home season at Brownson Arena and remain undefeated against West Division teams.
“I think we were really excited for this match,” outside hitter Gabrielle Lovato said after the Mavericks improved to 17-9, 15-2 in the RMAC. “Western New Mexico is a fun team to play. We were excited for Senior Night and today.”
The Mustangs led for only one point in each of the first two games and built a 4-1 lead early in the third before the Mavericks came right back to tie it at 4-4. A service error gave the Mustangs their final lead of the night, 5-4, but their own service error tied it again and the Mavs’ Meredith Dolny went to the service line.
An attack error and an ace gave the Mavs a 7-5 lead and defense and strong net play did the rest. Not even a replayed point after a rotation dispute slowed the Mavericks down.
“It was my mistake for mentioning it in the first place. I should have waited until they served and then mentioned it,” said Mesa State coach Dave Fleming, who told the floor official before the serve that the Mustangs were out of rotation.
The floor official misread the scoresheet that charts the serving rotation, and after Antoinette McCormick threw down a kill, Fleming again mentioned the rotation. Instead of awarding Mesa the point, it was replayed.
No matter, the Mavs ran the exact same play they did the point before — with the same result. McCormick slammed the ball into the middle of the defense for a 16-11 lead.
“If anything, it fired up our team a little bit and we played better after that,” Fleming said.
They scored nine of the next 14 points, including a stuff block by setter Tara King and a strictly reactionary dig by Lovato after an attack.
Lovato, who had 10 kills in her final home match, cranked up for an attack on the left side at 22-16. The Mustangs, though, threw up a double block that came right back at Lovato before her feet touched the floor.
Instinctively, she put her hands together (almost) and passed the ball to King, who quickly set the Mavs’ offense for Bosch, who scored on a kill down the line.
“Nope,” she said when asked if she even saw the ball come back over the net. “I didn’t even have my hands completely together. That was just instinct.”
Bosch and Lindsey Jefferson teamed up on a block to get it to match point, and an attack error by the Mustangs wrapped up the night.
The Mavs’ middle attack, once again led by McCormick, set the tone and opened up the outside hitters. McCormick had 14 kills, with only three errors in 31 attacks.
Mesa State was also back in sync with the return of senior outside hitter Ali Tompkins, who sat out Saturday’s match with tendinitis in her right shoulder. The week off seemed to do the trick — Tompkins had eight kills and only two errors in 19 attempts,
The Mavericks wrap up the regular season at Fort Lewis on Friday and Western State on Saturday as they continue to build toward the RMAC tournament.
“They’ve set the bar really high,” Fleming said of the Mavericks. “We have high expectations.”