Searching for an identity has been one of the greatest challenges facing a young CSU volleyball team for a majority of this season. The Rams took a big step toward finding that identity this past weekend.
CSU swept the Utah/BYU road trip for the fourth year in a row proving that despite some rocky matches thus far, the Rams are still a force in Mountain West Conference volleyball. After playing just .500 ball for their previous six matches, the Rams beat the best team in the conference, No. 16 BYU, in five games before turning around and running through a Utah team that hadn't lost since their trip to Fort Collins earlier this year.
BYU had only one loss, to in-state rival Utah, going into the match, and the Rams jumped out to a quick two game lead. The Cougars bounced back taking games three and four before CSU closed out game five in arguably the most exciting match of the season. CSU then beat Utah with relative ease in four games the following night.
More important than convincing skeptical fans they are still in the hunt for the MWC tournament title, the Rams convinced themselves that when they play CSU-type volleyball, they can beat any team in this conference
The outright winner of the conference tournament gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, something the Rams will need to take full advantage of. Although CSU has played inspired volleyball as of late, if they fall short in the postseason, the odds of them getting an at large bid are slim to none. With losses to New Mexico and TCU on the road, and to UNLV at home, the back-to-back wins in Utah make only a small case for the Rams NCAA hopes.
The saving grace the Rams possess is the reputation that CSU has for a conference powerhouse. That combined with the fact they can avenge the losses to New Mexico and TCU this coming week give the Rams a fighting chance.
Assuming the Rams can have success in Moby this week, and early in the conference tournament, odds are the Rams will meet either Utah or BYU, if not both, once more this season. Having beaten them on their home floor means the two Utah powers will have more than ample motivation, but also means the Rams will have confidence. The Rams are the most dangerous team in the conference when they are aggressive and confident.