Ashton Reese didn't like what she saw on the Colorado School of Mines website.
"I went on their website and they called us the cows. That definitely put a little pep in my step," she said.
Reese didn't like that, and coupled with what was on the line in Friday's match against the Orediggers, she responded with 10 kills and four assisted blocks, giving the Mavs needed firepower from the right side.
A couple of fans came up to the 6-foot-1 redshirt sophomore, telling her she changed the momentum of the match. One fan told her he was glad he wasn't on the other side of the net from her.
"I take the opportunities when I can," Reese said. "It's been and up-and-down road."
She's battled injuries the past two years, including a pulled abdominal muscle, which makes it impossible for her to jump or twist to hit the ball.
"It's frustrating, but when I get back, I take it," she said.
Her strength made a difference, as she powered the ball across the net time and time again and solidified CMU's block, but the Mavericks fell short in a five-set thriller, 25-21, 27-29, 28-26, 21-25, 15-10. The loss, the first at Brownson Arena this season, puts CMU's chances of hosting a first-round match in the RMAC tournament in jeopardy.
A win would have clinched at least the No. 4 seed, but instead, Mines pulled even in the standings and has the tiebreaker over the Mavericks should they finish the season tied.
"It looks like we'll probably be on the road that first Tuesday no matter what happens," CMU coach Dave Fleming said. "We don't control that any more, but this team did well on the road last year."
After dropping the first set, the Mavericks played one of their best sets of the season, coming from deficits of 18-14 and 22-18.
Down 23-22, CMU pushed the ball to the right side for Reese. As Fleming yelled "hit it!" Reese responded with a crushing attack that the Orediggers couldn't handle.
Kerstin Layman followed with a service ace, but on the next point, Reese was called for being in the net.
Down to only one substitute, the Mavericks caught a break in the rotation when Kasie Gilfert came in for Layman, the libero, tied at 26-26. After Holly Schmidt scored for a 28-27 lead, Maranda Theleus went to the service line.
The freshman right-side hitter rarely serves, but because she had subbed in a few points earlier, the Mavs couldn't replace her in the back row. Her serve was solid, and Gilfert tied the match when she tipped over the block.
"That's what we're after all the time," Fleming said of the grit the Mavericks showed. "The really good teams we've had in the past are that gritty all the time and this one is kind of in waves. Hopefully they can use that as a catalyst."
Gilfert finished with 21 kills, Camille Smith 13 and Katie Scherr 10 to match Reese.
"I think that was our fastest bounce-back," Reese said. "Great serve-receive. A little more of that and we would have pulled that (match) out."
After Mines won another lengthy set to go up 2-1, the Mavericks responded again, taking a 6-1 lead after Gilfert and Reese teamed up for a block.
"The big thing for Ashton, she had the four blocks assisted and she just changes arm swings," Fleming said. "She's respected in the RMAC as a good blocker and outside hitters know that."
Mesa never trailed in the fourth set, but couldn't get the momentum in the fifth tied 7-7.
"Everybody played pretty well," Fleming said. "We've got to cut down on a few errors, but we're hitting .251, we're going to beat most teams hitting .251, and outdigging them (74-65) and outblocking them (13-10).
"Give Mines credit, they scrambled really well. Early on they were getting better swings. We were tipping the ball or free-balling it over and they were getting swings. That was a factor; they were more comfortable taking rips out of system."