Sep 192004
 
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

The Rams spiking, hitting and blocking machines were in full

force as the No. 11 CSU women’s volleyball team finished up

preseason tournament play by winning the University Park Classic

over the weekend. The Rams picked up wins against No. 18 Pepperdine

(2-4) on Friday and Southern Mississippi (3-4) on Saturday

afternoon.

The Rams won their seventh straight match to advance to 7-1 on

the season.

Backed by a crowd of 1,810 on Friday night and a FOX Sports

Rocky Mountain television audience, the Rams dominated the

Pepperdine Waves, taking the match in four games 30-16, 30-28,

31-33 and 30-21. The Waves had a .000 hitting percentage in the

first game and looked rusty, but they put up a fight in games two

and three, winning the third and forcing a game four.

Four Rams had double figures in kills in the match and junior

outside hitter Tess Rogers tied a season high with 17 kills. In her

first start of the season, junior outside hitter Casey Bauer looked

impressive with 11 kills and six digs. The Waves had five players

with double kills, but the team hurt itself with errors. The Waves

had 14 service errors and 35 hitting errors to pull their hitting

percentage down to .159.

The crowd was loud and boisterous throughout the match and the

Rams felt it.

“It was fun to have the crowd and the students behind us,” said

junior right side hitter Dre Downs, who hit .591 on the night with

14 kills.

Despite the third game loss, the team didn’t lose focus.

“Even though we lost that third game, we came in with confidence

(in game four),” said senior setter Melissa Courtney.

After Ohio beat Pepperdine in four games, the Rams faced

Southern Miss on Saturday afternoon.

The Rams downed the Golden Eagles in three games 30-19, 30-28

and 30-20 to win the tournament undefeated.

The Golden Eagles couldn’t get a consistent hitting game

together finishing the match led by freshman Leslie VanDuinen with

nine kills. As a team, the Eagles hit only .068.

The Rams showed considerable depth by playing several players

that had not seen much time on the court. Redshirt freshman outside

hitter Tonya Mokelki earned accolades from Courtney for her play.

Sophomore outside hitter/setter Katherine Whitney pulled out 10

digs to match sophomore libero Kristen Karlik.

“I though Mok (Mokelki) did a good job,” Courtney said.

While fatigue was a bit of a factor, the Rams overcame that

challenge easily.

“I was tired,” Courtney said. “After game one I had to go get

something to eat. That’s what we stayed this summer and conditioned

for.”

Bauer contributed 12 kills, tying a season high with Courtney,

who was named the MVP of the tournament.

“(It was from) getting good sets,” Bauer said.

The Rams also got a good performance from senior middle backer

Bri Frech, who had career highs in kills with 15 and three solo

blocks. Frech had only one hitting error on the night.

“Every time we were struggling today Bri Frech got us out of

it,” said head coach Tom Hilbert. “I like it when she feels that

way.”

While Hilbert said he was proud of the team, he knows there is

room for improvement as the team heads into conference play.

“I’d like to be a better team before we play Utah and BYU,”

Hilbert said.

The Rams play Air Force at 7 p.m. on Friday.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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