In four close games against Utah, the CSU volleyball team had
two come-from-behind victories to win the match 3-1 and continue
their undefeated reign atop the Mountain West Conference.
The Rams beat BYU, who fell to 16-6 overall and 6-3 in the MWC,
in a three game sweep (30-19, 30-20 and 30-29) on Saturday night,
but played their best volleyball on Sunday against Utah who dropped
to 13-7 overall and 7-2 in the MWC.
“That was the most competitive game we have seen in this gym in
a long time,” said CSU head coach Tom Hilbert. “It was very, very
competitive. They were good and much improved from the last time we
played them. They were prepared for us.”
The lead and momentum shifted back and forth between the teams
in the intense game four. Tied at 18, the momentum fell towards the
Rams as they scored five unanswered points, including kills by
sophomore outside hitter Tess Rogers, and went up 23-19.
Utah came back and went ahead pulling within one of game point
at 29-27. Another Rogers’ kill, followed by junior middle blocker
Bri Frech’s block tied the game at 29. With the fans on their feet,
sophomore right side hitter Dre Downs made a kill to give the Rams
a 30-29 lead. Then Rogers had a game and match-winning block as CSU
“I was just in the right place at the right time and did the
right thing at the right time,” Rogers said.
The victory moved the Rams to 18-4 overall and 9-0 in conference
and proved they can win close games.
“We’re good when the game is on the line,” Hilbert said. “You’re
a good team when you go out and beat teams 30-17, but you’re a
great team when you can win competitive games like this.”
The first game was close, but after a 12-12 tie, CSU gained a
two-point lead they never lost and won 30-25. In game two, CSU came
back from a 29-28 deficit to win 31-29.
The Rams scored first in game three, but Utah sophomore Shelley
Sommerfeldt helped guide the Utes to a 30-22 victory by hitting
.625 with five kills and five points.
For CSU, Katie Jo Shirley finished the night hitting .297 with
match-high 16 kills, while Downs hit .478 with a season-high 13
kills and a career-high eight blocks. Junior outside hitter Becky
Sarauer also contributed 15 kills.
Rogers led the charge for the Rams against BYU by hitting .458
and a match-high 13 kills and Sarauer had 12 kills and hit .346.
All five hitters hit about .300, while the team’s hitting
percentage was .346.
The Rams now travel to San Diego State on Thursday and UNLV on
Saturday in their final conference road games of the season. The
win against Utah should help them.
“A game like this brings up our confidence and makes us realize
that when we do get in competitive situations, we can work through
it,” Sarauer said. “San Diego State is good and we have confidence
going in, but we know it is going to be a good game and they are
tough to beat at home.”