Mesa State’s King sets up for success |

Mesa State’s King sets up for success

Phil Sandoval/Grand Junction Free Press

2006 Steamboat Springs High School graduate Tara King is the starting setter for Mesa State College in Grand Junction. King leads the Mavs in assists at 8.3 a game.

— When it comes to volleyball, Tara King found out her mom was right.

“In seventh grade, we started school sports,” King recalled. “I went to a football game, because my dad was a quarterback in college. I came running home with the papers and gave them to my mom, and she looked at me like I was crazy and was confused. She just ripped them up, put them in the trash, and said, ‘You know what’s a cool sport, is volleyball.'”

King balked at first.

“I thought it was girlie and not a real sport,” she said. “I grew up on basketball, football and hockey. Volleyball seemed almost like cheerleading. I wanted to play football, but my mom basically told me I was going to play volleyball.”

Good idea, mom.

Once King got involved with volleyball, her talent in the sport translated to an outstanding three-year varsity career at Steamboat Springs High School from 2003 to 2005. She continued as Mesa State’s starting setter this season. King chose Mesa after attending a volleyball camp there while in high school.

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“I realized it was high-level volleyball. Then I went to a Division I camp back east, and it wasn’t even the same level,” she said. “That’s when I decided I thought I’d go to a good Division II school with a chance to win a national championship with a good coach.”

At Mesa, King quickly established herself. As a freshman in 2005, King played in 40 games and was second on the team in assists, averaging 5.4 per game.

Last year, she was forced to the sidelines as a medical redshirt because of a car accident.

Now King’s game is as strong as ever. Her team-high 8.3 assists per game is among the best in the position in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. More importantly, King has helped the Mavericks maintain at least a share of first place in the RMAC’s West Division. Mesa State is tied with Fort Lewis at 5-1 (7-6 overall).

King said the main difference this year is that the team comes first.

“Honestly, everyone got sick of the drama. No one wanted to be on a losing team that hated each other. We just figured out how to come together as a team. Everyone put their differences aside and did it for the team, because no one was having fun.”

And the game’s still fun for King and the Mavs, despite a grueling schedule that has had them playing on the road for most of the year.

“You get used to it because you have to. Sitting in the van for a long road trip definitely makes you stiff,” King said. “It’s hard to keep up with everything else – school and life. You feel like you don’t have time to do anything. But it’s nice to beat people in their house, though.”