Nov 032005
Authors: Paul Baker

Last Match: Win 3-0 over Wyoming

This Match: Friday 7 p.m. v. UNLV

Next Match: Saturday 7 p.m. v. San Diego State

With the conference race tightening up and a possible spot in the NCAA Tournament within reach, the Rams return home to Moby Arena for two matches this weekend, where they are 8-1 this season.

Tonight's match-up brings the Rebels of UNLV, who are currently a half game ahead of the Rams for third place in the Mountain West Conference. The last time these two teams met yielded a four game victory for the Rams out in Las Vegas.

"They're a good team playing with great consistency," head coach Tom Hilbert said. "They're a better team than the last time we played them and we're a better team than last time. It should be a good match."

UNLV is currently 11-11 on the season and 7-3 in conference, but have beaten the teams they needed to get where they are. The Rebels are led by sophomore middle blocker Lauren Miramontes, who is averaging 3.38 kills per game, .87 blocks per game and is hitting .234. Hilbert believes that she is one of the best athletes in the league. The Rebels, like the Rams, have a freshman performing the setting duties. Melody Nua is averaging 11.46 assists per game and is fourth on the team in digs.

The Rams are 19-2 all time against UNLV, going 9-0 in Moby during that span.

"We always play better in Moby," sophomore Tonya Mokelki said. "The fans and the atmosphere make it easier to get hyped up."

CSU won't have any time to rest as the Aztecs of San Diego State stop by for a visit Saturday night.

SDSU is close to the Rams in the standings as well, only a half game behind the Rams for fifth place in the conference.

The Aztecs are 14-9 on the season, 6-4 in conference, and are a very interesting team according to Hilbert.

"They block very well as a team," said Hilbert. "They got two transfers this year that are playing awesome for them, and Audra Dent, who is left-handed, is hard to prepare for."

The Aztecs are led in kills by outside hitter Melanie Greene with 3.15 a game, while middle blocker Lindsey Noll is third in the league in hitting percentage at .346 and averages 1.35 blocks per game.

"It will be another tough match for us, but SDSU struggles with the altitude," Hilbert said.

Ram freshman setter Ashley Fornstrom was named MWC Player of the Week for her performances against TCU and Wyoming. It was the first time she has received the honor. Fornstrom tallied 55 assists and a career-best .444 hitting percentage against TCU. She also notched a double-double with 43 assists and 14 digs against Wyoming.

CSU (13-6, 6-3) needs to win out or win the MWC Tournament in November to have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament.

"Our new goal is now to win the conference tournament, if that doesn't happen then we are definitely a bubble team," Hilbert said. "We just have to try to prepare for each match as much as possible."

Tonight's match, as well as Saturday's match, will begin at 7 p.m.


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