Last weekend, the Rams’ volleyball team beat Utah and lost to BYU. The Wyoming Cowgirls did the same.
Tonight, the Rams and Cowgirls square off. CSU heads north for the game, which starts at 7:30 p.m. and is the only game for both teams this weekend.
This marks the second and final time that the two teams will meet during the regular season. The Rams dominated the Cowgirls when they came to visit Moby Arena Sept. 6. They won in just three games (30-15, 30-23, 30,21), but that doesn’t mean tonight is going to be another gimme.
“We won rather easily last time,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “You don’t want players to think it’ll be that way this time, and it won’t.”
When the Cowgirls beat Utah on Friday, the Utes were ranked No. 16 in the nation. Wyoming’s new head coach, Jim Barnes, will double the Cowgirls’ wins from last season with a victory over CSU.
“They are now learning what it takes to be successful and everyone has responded very well,” Barnes said.
CSU is wary of the turnaround Wyoming has made.
“When they are in Laramie they can beat anyone,” Hilbert said. “Jim Barnes makes them competitive.”
The game has been moved to Wyoming’s Arena-Auditorium with a capacity of more than 15,000. This is due to an anticipated larger-than-average crowd watching the Cowgirl’s biggest rivals. Arena-Auditorium is dubbed the “Dome of Doom” and has an elevation of 7,220 ft.
Wyoming outside hitter Sarah Maytorena was named the MWC co-player of the week for her impressive outing last weekend. She racked up 31 kills (3.88per game), 13 digs (1.62 per game) and 18 blocks (2.25 per game), while hitting .339 . Sophomore right side hitter, Michele Rauter is leading the Cowgirls with 4.42 kills a game average for the season.
“Michele Rauter and Sarah Maytorena are both very good,” Hilbert said. “Wyoming’s record (18-5 overall, 3-4 MWC) is not an accident.”
This marks the 53rd meeting of the two teams, with the Rams holding the advantage 34-14. Although the all-time series may seem one-sided, it won’t be easy for the young Rams team to start playing on the road.
“We are preparing our team to play in an unfamiliar environment when the anxiety level is up,” Hilbert said.
After a very successful first half of conference play, the Rams are preparing for a challenging second half. The Rams will play five of the next seven games on the road and will travel to UNLV and San Diego State after the trip to Laramie.
It will be a nice break for the team to get a Saturday off, as they are used to playing two games each weekend.
“It gives our players a chance to be students,” Hilbert said.
The players might be students but they are also athletes with a lot of pride and determination to win a local rivalry.
“The players always play hard against BYU, Utah, CU, and Wyoming,” Hilbert said.
With the exception of the five-game loss to BYU, the Rams have already beaten these teams this season.
-Edited by Jon Ackerman and Ben Koerselman