Behind excellent serving and blocking, the CSU women’s
volleyball team beat San Diego and UNLV, extending its winning
streak to six matches.
The No. 9 Rams (19-2, 10-1 Mountain West Conference) recorded a
season high 11 service aces and 13 blocks on Friday night against
the Aztecs (3-19, 3-6 MWC). Saturday they countered the UNLV Rebels
(12-8, 6-4 MWC) with nine blocks and a .436 hitting percentage.
The Aztecs fell behind on the scoreboard fast with the Rams
rattling off five unanswered points. Senior outside hitter Kara
Moriarty, who led the Aztecs with 3.56 kills per game, went down
with an ankle injury with the score at 5-1 and didn’t return to the
“Moriarty is a great player and it was definitely our goal to
shut her down,” said CSU senior setter Melissa Courtney. “Moriarty
does put up good blocks and is, I think, their best hitter.”
The only senior on the team, Moriarty was a big loss to the
Aztecs, who seemed hard-pressed to find a rhythm. They hit -.029,
had just two blocks and are the only opponent this year that didn’t
record a service ace against the Rams.
Junior outside hitters Ashley Bowker and Melissa Stapley both
had seven kills to lead the Aztecs while sophomore right-side
hitter Audra Dent was silenced to just four kills. Freshman setter
Kristen Castillo had 17 assists.
“Our goals tonight were to stop Moriarty and (Audra) Dent,” said
CSU head coach Tom Hilbert. “Bowker did a good job on us and hurt
us a little bit.”
The energy coming from the Rams on the court was noticed by the
crowd of 1,304 at Moby Arena. Loud cheers could be heard when a big
block or kill was made.
“We made it a goal to have fun out there and get excited,”
Courtney said. ” I think we were going to get excited out there no
CSU pulled out in three quick games 30-18, 30-9, 30-20. It was
the first time this season that the Rams held an opponent under 10
The fun continued in game three when the Rams switched around
the lineup as senior defensive specialist Kimi Foytich replaced
sophomore Kristen Karlik at libero. Karlik recorded her first kills
since last season when the Rams faced Bradley. Her three kills were
a career high.
“It was very strange, but it felt good,” Karlik said.
Sophomore setter/outside hitter Katherine Whitney replaced
Courtney at setter and hit some impressive kills of her own.
Juniors outside hitter Tess Rogers and right-side hitter Dre
Downs outshined the seniors with 11 kills. Senior middle blocker
Katie Jo Shirley-Cahoon had nine kills and also recorded her 300th
block of her career. Courtney had a career and season high with six
Saturday night against UNLV the energy continued for the Rams.
While the Rebels scored the first point off a Downs hitting error,
the Rams recorded five points and ended the match in three games
30-18, 30-22 and 30-18.
The Rebels hit better than the Aztecs (.139), but CSU recorded
18 more kills. Freshman outside hitter Brittani Lumsden led the
Rebels with nine kills and three service aces while senior setter
Nicki King had 24 assists. Sophomore middle blocker Lauren
Miramontes and freshman outside hitter Maria Aladjova both had
“I think we played a lot better tonight,” Rogers said. “We
stayed in longer rallies and stayed focused.”
The Rams matched their six service errors with six aces and
Rogers felt the good serves helped disrupt the Rebels’ offense.
“I also thought our serving disrupted them a lot more,” Rogers
The match marked Shirley-Cahoon’s ninth double-double of her
career and also the return of senior outside hitter Becky Sarauer,
who had missed six matches due to a sprained ankle. Sarauer
recorded three kills and needs just 20 more for the 1,000th of her
“It was great to have Becky back on the court and playing with
us,” Shirley-Cahoon said.
The Rams were led by Rogers who had 14 kills and just two
hitting errors. Shirley-Cahoon had 10 kills, 11 digs and three
service aces. Senior middle blocker Bri Frech had 11 kills, one
solo block and four assists.
“In some ways this might have been the most complete match we’ve
played all year,” Hilbert said. “This was a really, really good
effort and was very low error. We executed blocking exactly the way
we wanted to and we out-dug UNLV and they were way below their
season average in digs.”
There were several long rallies that ended in points for CSU,
though it could have been easy for the point to swing UNLV’s way.
The crowd of 1,226 grew louder as each rally escalated.
“I expected a lot more long rallies,” Hilbert said. “They (UNLV)
weren’t able to get into a groove. We did a really good job on
Aladjova, but she still hurt us. We did make her take two or three
swings in a rally.”
Hilbert said he hopes the intensity the Rams showed this weekend
continues when the team hits the road Friday with a match in
Wyoming at 7 p.m. and on Sunday in a non-conference match against
No. 4 Nebraska at 4 p.m.