On Friday, October 28 Mesa Community swept the Pima Aztecs 25-18, 25-20, 25-13 at Theo Heap Gym to close the season on a high note during sophomore night Even before the match started the Thunderbirds volleyball had already clinched the #2 seed in the ACCAC DII tournament. After a rough October losing four out of seven matches, most notably to #2 nationally ranked Glendale in three straight sets on October 23 who will be hosting the playoffs as the #1 seed in the tournament.
Creating the importance for head Coach Megan Taylor and the Thunderbirds to perform well heading into a heated playoff stretch where they need to be in full stride if they plan on beating. In all sets, Mesa played well as Megan Taylor harped on their ability to close out games saying on multiple occasions to “Shut the door and lock it!” No matter how often she could say it Mesa appeared to forget it at times. Giving up tons of points in the process letting Pima come a little too close for comfort, even in the second set the T-Birds actually fell behind a bit, but never too much to cause them much damage.
The T-Birds finished the second with a 13-8 overall record, the best record the team has had since 2005 after finishing 18-11. Mesa Community College boasts a quality unit who shows signs of brilliance, particularly on defense with a big help from the freshman, Leah Christ who is a consistent blocker capable of shutting opposing offenses down all by herself. However, the T-Birds go through sudden dry spells letting teams get consecutive points while they look dead only for Coach Taylor to call a time out to revive her team.
As for their offense as Coach Taylor said at the beginning of the season mesa plays well “out of system”. The flaw is that it is hard to start a play out of system because that would require that there be some type of planning for the next few phases to achieve the point. When there is no plan opposing teams Mesa is exposed causing to give up easy points. Another fault in playing out of system is that the Thunderbirds tend not to communicate with each other as you could hear a pin drop during games if the ball was in the air.
The challenge in the playoffs that will determine how far they go is how they can expand their play to include more set systems to get easy points. Diversify to give these opponents who most have played Mesa already something new and polished to gain an advantage. They will have to if they plan on beating one of the stronger teams in the nation #2 Glendale Looking back at the season as a whole and thinking of the deplorable win rate historically the mere fact that MCC even has a winning volleyball team is something to celebrate. Coach Taylor in her rookie year has done a masterful job that everyone in Mesa has to be proud of no matter the outcome in the playoff.