Oct 232003
 
Authors: Joelle Milholm

The top spot in the Mountain West Conference will be in

contention this weekend, as the conference leading CSU volleyball

team hosts third place Brigham Young and runner-up Utah.

Ranked No. 18 nationally, the Rams are a perfect 7-0 in the MWC

and 16-4 overall heading into the second half of conference play.

Head coach Tom Hilbert knows that both BYU and Utah will be a

challenge for the Rams.

“Both of these teams are pretty similar,” Hilbert said. “Both

are dominated by middles and both are very hard to defend when they

are passing well.”

The Rams kick off the first of their last seven conference games

at 7 p.m. on Saturday night in Moby Arena against BYU (15-5, 5-2

MWC). The Cougars’ only conference losses are against CSU and

Utah.

Juniors Katie Jo Shirley and Becky Sarauer led the Rams with 16

kills each in the teams’ meeting earlier this season when CSU swept

BYU in Provo, Utah. The last five times the two teams have faced

each other, the road team has won.

Both teams hit .260, which ties them for the conference lead.

The Cougars are the only team in the MWC to have three players

ranked in the top 10 for hitting with Lindsy Hartsock in second

place at .352, Carrie Bowers in ninth with .303 and Laura Nielsen

in 10th place at .300.

One major concern for the Rams is the health of outside hitter

Katie Jo Shirley. She has missed practices this week and is

questionable for the games this weekend.

“We’ve been preparing in case she can’t play, but we hope she

will,” Hilbert said. “She is pretty tough and I think she will

play.”

CSU enters the match riding a nine-game winning streak and looks

to continue their dominance in conference.

Following Saturday’s game, the Rams face Utah on Sunday at 4

p.m. in Moby. The match will be televised on College Sports

Television as part of the station’s Sunday Night Spikes broadcast

and game of the week.

Utah’s (12-6, 6-1) only conference loss came against CSU in Salt

Lake City. The Rams have beaten the Utes 12 of their last 14

matches including six straight at Moby Arena.

“We’re preparing for two tough matches this weekend,” said Utah

head coach Beth Launiere in a press release. “We’ll focus on

Colorado State once we’ve finished the Wyoming match (Saturday in

Laramie, Wyo.). At this point, every match is important in order to

attain our goal of a conference championship.”

MWC Player of the Week Kim Turner leads the Utes with an average

of 3.95 kills a game and a .310 hitting percentage. Launiere knows

the match will be a good one as the Rams have won three consecutive

regular season conference titles and the Utes have won two straight

conference tournament titles.

“We can win these matches if we come out and play our best,”

Hilbert said. “I think (BYU and Utah) are better teams than when we

played them last, but I think we are a better team too. We just

have to go out and show it.”

 

 

 

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