By Lee Miller
After the first weekend of Mountain West play, the CSU volleyball team emerged as the only unbeaten team with a 3-0 conference record.
The Rams lost their first two games of the weekend against San Diego State, but won the next six to take matches against the Aztecs and UNLV.
The Rams dropped the first game against SDSU after blowing a 25-20 lead. The Rams came out flat in the second game, and it looked as if the Aztecs would be able to close out the match.
The Rams refocused in the third game, however, and treated the crowd at Moby Arena to a thrilling come-from-behind win, 27-30, 18-30, 30-25, 30-21, 15-12.
“I thought we played really well in the first game until the 25-21 point,” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said Friday. “We fell flat in the second game, but I’m very proud of our team. This is the first time we’ve been able to come back and refocus this season. We came out in the third game and took control. We served tough, and everybody stepped up at different times in the match.”
The Rams had five players with double figures in kills. Tess Rogers set a career mark with 23 kills and Michelle Knox added 20, marking the first time the Rams have had two players with 20 or more kills since last September, when Angela Knopf and Courtney Cox combined for 44 kills against Georgia Tech.
Libero Lindsey Kerr and setter Melissa Courtney also set personal bests. Kerr finished with 26 digs and Courtney put up 69 assists.
“Melissa did a great job of distributing the ball tonight,” Knox said. “She made a lot of good decisions and got the ball up exactly where we needed it to be.”
San Diego State middle blocker Nicole Aporiaye led the team 14 kills and eight blocks on the night. Rochelle Currier added 13 kills, and setter Melissa Wright posted a triple-double with 11 kills, 51 assists and 12 digs.
The Aztecs lost one of their leaders in the third game when outside hitter Zlatina Anguelova went down with a knee injury. Anguelova left the match with nine kills and two blocks.
The Aztecs were unavailable for comment following the match.
The Rams followed up the heroic performance from Saturday night with a three game sweep (30-20, 30-25, 30-19) over UNLV on Saturday.
The Rams posted eight aces in the match, one of their better service performances of the season. Dre Downs was very consistent with her jump serve and led the team with three aces.
Knox and Rogers were led the charge again combining for 24 kills. Knox led all players with a .600 hitting percentage.
“Vegas came in tonight with a few injuries, so preparing for them was kind off difficult,” Hilbert said. “I think we did a good job on their outside hitters blocked really well. We also had good positioning, which allowed us to dig with more control.”
During the third game, the Rams were able to give Knox and Rogers some rest and get some playing time for freshmen Casey Bauer and Melissa Dennett.
UNLV used nine players over the course of the night, and were not able to establish much of an offensive attack on the Rams.
Middle blocker Patricia Assuncao was the only player on the team with double figures in kills on the night, with 10, and the team could only get two blocks on the Rams’ spikers.
“It’s good to have a win like the one we had tonight because it lets us know that we have control of the situation,” Knox said.
The Rams passed the first conference test this season, but will face much tougher ones next week when they travel to play Air Force and New Mexico.
“We will have to play better on the on the road because it’s a lot different when you’re in the other team’s arena,” Hilbert said. “Especially with a team as young as this one.”