LONGMONT — It was just a matter of time before the light went on for Michael Dumler's Mead Mavericks.
That epiphany may very well have happened late last week in a 5-set loss at No. 7 Windsor just five days ago.
"This is a long time coming because we graduated eight seniors last year," said Dumler, whose team claimed the Tri-Valley League title last season. "We pretty much started over and we had to change the lineup last match against Windsor and it worked really well. I guess we should have started this way."
On Tuesday night, needing a victory to stay in the 36 team regional conversation, the Mavericks played one of their best matches of the year and took out a good Erie team in four games, 25-17, 29-27, 26-28, 25-16 to score a huge Tri-Valley league win.
"Until you get in that situation where you push through on those hard ones, it's hard," said Dumler, whose team staved off five set points in sets two and three. "When we set out that new lineup against Windsor we said, let's just take it one set at a time, that's all we can do. We get one here, we get one there and then we'll go from there.
"And that is what they have done and what a huge difference."
The Mavericks (7-9, 5-7)were trailing 15-12 in the first set but rallied on Sydney Blackburn's serve. They won nine straight points behind the big hitting of Sophie Smith, Bailee Irwin and Makayla Morton to go up 21-15 before closing out the set 25-17.
The second set belonged to Morton. The junior, who finished with an impressive 28 kills, was on fire and setter Delaney Overlin was finding her.
"That was an absolute blast," Morton said. "Ever since we put together the new lineup we've been connecting and it's just been awesome."
Erie (13-7, 6-6) had three chances in the second set to even things up, but each time the Mavericks defense stood its ground and denied the Tigers.
Morton eventually closed out the second set and just had her both coaches watching in awe.
"That girls is just ridiculous," said Dumler, whose team presented freshman manager Jennifer Rael — who is battling leukemia — with a $2,200 donation from their Pink Game before the match. "We talked about playing smart and whoever is on, you just keep going and keep going until they shut her down and then we will figure out something else."
Said Erie coach Russell Fox: "They played great and they have one great outside and we could not slow her down. We didn't give them enough tough balls and when we didn't do that they teed her up and she had her way."
The Tigers tried to give away Game 3, squandering two more set points, but rallied to win the final three points and extend the match.
In the fourth, the Mavericks, who lost to Erie 3-1 earlier in the season, played their best set of the match. Morton and Macy Bourn, who had 20 kills of her own, had Erie on their heels and never allowed the Tigers to develop any sort of momentum from their Game 3 win. Morton closed out the game with back-to-back aces.
"It's just a totally different feeling and I don't really know how to explain it," said Morton, about being in the zone. "But it is a great feeling."
Mead will try and keep it going on Thursday at home against No. 5 Holy Family. The Tigers, who are still in good shape regional-wise, will try and rebound at home against Skyline.
"I'd rather have this wake-up call now than in two weeks," Fox said. "I don't want to take anything away from Mead, but I still think we are the better team, but we just didn't play like it tonight."
Mead 3, Erie 1
At MeadErie (13-7, 6-6) 17 27 28 16 Mead (7-9, 5-7) 25 29 26 25
Kills — Erie: Mya Michaelson 16, Shania Ysac 8; Mead: Makayla Morton 28, Macy Bourn 20.
Blocks — Erie: Sydney Marler 2, Madi Wilden 2; Mead: Sophie Smith 8, Bailee Irwin 5.
Assists — Erie: Katia Fitzgerald 41; Mead: Delaney Overlin 31.
Aces — Erie: Megan Weingand 4; Mead: Morton 7, Bourn 2, Sydney Blackburn 2.
Digs — Erie: Rhi Mount 21, Ysac 14; Mead: Blackburn 25, Bourn 19.