Ram volleyball takes its conference leading 7-1 record on the road this weekend when it adds UNLV and San Diego State to its list of rematches.
The Rams last saw these teams about a month ago at Moby Arena, and snuck away with two wins. The Rams beat the Aztecs in a five game barnburner and followed it up with a sweep of the Rebels the next night.
“They will definitely be out to get us,” outside hitter Becky Sarauer said. “Plus we’ll be playing in their home gyms this time without the support of our fans. We’re going to have to play our best.”
This time UNLV will be first. It is expected to be the easier of the two matches.
In the last match, CSU saw a lot of different looks from the rebels. Ten players saw action for the Rebels at different points in the match. Outside hitter Patricia Assuncao gave the Rams the most trouble, accounting for 10 of the Rebels’ kills and one of their two blocks.
The match was one of the better performances by the Rams this season. Offensively they hit .367 and had 57 kills. Michelle Knox led the team with 13 kills and hit .600 for the night.
Defensively the Rams had 53 digs, with Lindsey Kerr’s 18 at the top. They out-blocked the Rebels 8-2 in the three game sweep.
Not much has changed in the UNLV lineup. They still rely on a lot of different players to get the job done. The Rebels have won three of their last four matches, including a win at BYU last weekend.
The win improved the Rebels’ conference record to 3-6. The Rebels are probably too far out of the race for contention in the conference, which gives them incentive to play spoiler against the conference leading Rams.
San Diego State will be looking for revenge after the Rams came behind from a two game deficit to win in a shocker last month.
This match is also crucial because with a win over UNLV, the Rams will be fighting for their lead in the Mountain West Conference. The Aztecs will host Wyoming on Friday night and could potentially be 8-2 in the conference going into their match-up with the Rams.
“This match is really going to test us,” CSU outside hitter Tess Rogers said. “We’re going to have to do a good job of stopping their slide hitting and digging. Defense is going to be huge.”
In the last meeting, the teams traded off momentum with the Aztecs controlling the first two games and the Rams dominating the last three. The Rams out-killed the Aztecs 83-67 and out-dug them 93-84.
The Rams held the Aztecs below a .100 hitting percentage in the third and fourth games to tie the match. The Rams never led by more than three points in the final game, but were able to put away the dejected Aztecs 15-12.
Rogers led all players with a career-high 23 kills and Knox followed up with 20. Setter Melissa Courtney had 69 assists and libero Lindsey Kerr had a career high 26 digs.
Nicole Akporiaye led the Rebels with 14 kills and Aspen McPartland added 12 kills and 28 digs.
The Aztecs also lost middle blocker Zlatina Anguelova in the third game of the match when she went down with a knee injury. Anguelova returned for matches ago and made immediate impact, averaging 5.08 kills per game.
Winning these two matches would put some distance between the Rams and the rest of the conference. A two game conference lead over the Aztecs and Utah (6-3) would put the Rams in the drivers seat going into their last four matches.
Edited By Josh Hardin