Las Vegas, Nev. – A Ram seven-point run at the end of third game against the Utah Utes wasn't enough to overcome a two game deficit in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament. Serving problems and conservative play were problems for CSU Friday at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas.
The Rams committed 14 service errors against the Utes in route to a 30-26, 30-23, 31-29 loss.
"You can't serve the ball like that and expect to win," head coach Tom Hilbert said after the loss.
CSU started off the first game of the match much like they finished their quarterfinal match, as they jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead. The Rams held a lead of 18-15 when the strengths of Utah kicked in. Outside hitters Shelly Sommerfeldt and Airial Salvo started to find seams in the Ram defense, and the Utes pulled ahead of CSU. After two crucial service errors, the Rams could never catch back up, and they dropped game one.
In game two, CSU couldn't find the holes in the Utah defense, and the Utes out-blocked the Rams seven to three. The Rams couldn't find a rhythm as they had eight attacking errors and were out-hit by the Utes .225 to .333.
"I thought that we could have blocked the ball better tonight," Hilbert said. "But I thought we hit the ball well."
The Rams' best chance to take a game from the Utes came in game three as CSU saw a seven point deficit 18-25 late in the game, but managed to tie the score 27-27, behind the swings of sophomore right side hitter Tonya Mokelki and senior outside hitter Tess Rogers. The teams exchanged points until the score was tied at 29-29 before Utah put two balls down to win the match in three straight games.
Rogers led the Rams with 17 kills on 42 swings, hitting .238 for the match. Mokelki also played well for the Rams as she recorded 12 kills on 21 swings, hitting a team-best .333 for the match.
"I was really proud of Tess tonight, they were double and triple blocking her all night and she still had 17 kills and hit the ball well," Hilbert said of the senior. "Ashley got a little conservative tonight and you can't do that and expect to beat these guys."
Utah went on to be the tournament champions.