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Last Match: Beat San Diego State 3-1
Friday 7 p.m. vs. BYU, Provo
Saturday 7 p.m. vs. Utah, Salt Lake
Energy, aggressiveness and confidence are typical components that a volleyball team needs to win. The Rams displayed all those things in half the games they played this weekend.
On Friday night, the Rams hosted UNLV in a battle for third place in the Mountain West Conference standings. The Rebels came into Moby Arena, where they were previously 0-9, and stole one from the Rams. UNLV controlled the match, winning in four games, 30-23, 26-30, 30-28 and 30-25.
"Our entire team is disappointed," head coach Tom Hilbert said of the loss. "They never played with any energy tonight."
The Rams committed 36 hitting errors and hit a paltry.126 as a team in the loss. The Rebels recorded 61 kills and hit .239 as a team.
The Rams were led by senior middle blocker Dre Downs, who tied for a match-high 16 kills and seven blocks. Senior outside hitter Tess Rogers had 15 kills on the night, while sophomore Amanda Fahnestock came off the bench and played well, hitting .429 with six kills and no errors.
"I think Amanda is an energetic person and I thought she would spark our offense, and she did a good job," Hilbert said.
Game one was close the entire way but the Rams couldn't manage to take the lead at the end. The Rebels went on a four-point streak to end the game. In game two the Rams got back to playing the way they needed to and led the entire way. Game three turned out to be the crucial game. The Rams held a three-point lead at 28-25 but the Rebels scored five consecutive points to take the game. In game four the Rams were able to erase a five-point deficit, but couldn't match the Rebels again in the later portion of the game.
"We didn't step it up when we needed to, especially in game three," Downs said. "All we can do is learn from it."
The Rams needed to change something quick, as SDSU was due up Saturday night to battle for fourth place in the conference.
This time the Rams brought all three ingredients as they ran past the Aztecs in four games, 30-32, 30-26, 30-25 and 30-20.
Downs dominated the night, hitting .400, with 22 kills and only six errors. She also added sevens blocks.
"Tonight was a big time performance for Dre (Downs)," Hilbert said. "I put a lot of pressure on her and she wasn't feeling well. I'm proud of her."
Sophomore Tonya Mokelki had a good match as she hit .429 with 10 kills and only one error. Senior Casey Bauer had another double-double, with 13 kills and 14 digs. Amber Piel came off the bench and recorded a career-high 16 digs.
"I was pretty nervous when I first got out there, but my teammates helped me out a lot," Piel said of the game.
The Rams, after a week of practice, will head back onto the road, traveling to Utah to take on the top two teams in the conference, Utah and BYU.
"I believe that every experience you have shapes you and that is what CSU competes like," Hilbert said. "I think this team will win the MWC tournament; we have that kind of talent."