Amanda Fahnestock had only seen limited time through 11 matches this season. But that hasn’t kept the junior middle blocker from staying determined and pushing herself hard in practice.
This weekend, as Rams volleyball hosted New Mexico and TCU, all that hard work and patience paid off.
Fahnestock helped the Rams improve to 7-6 overall and 2-2 in league play with back-to-back sweeps over conference opponents. Her performance in Saturday’s 30-22, 30-25, 30-13 win over TCU was particularly impressive.
Fahnestock was second on the team with 11 kills and finished with a .588 attack percentage. Her play may have surprised some in attendance, but Fahnestock said this is what she expected all along.
“Anyone should have confidence in what they can do,” she said. “The best feeling is knowing that my play helps out everyone on our team.”
Before this weekend’s matches, Fahnestock had mostly backed up sophomore Mekana Barnes, but a nagging ankle injury has kept Barnes limited in the past three matches. Head Coach Tom Hilbert put Fahnestock in midway through last weekend’s loss at BYU, and he hasn’t been able to pull her out since.
“She is growing better and better as a blocker,” said Hilbert. “She’s always been a good hitter. If she was 2 inches taller she’d be one of the best hitters in the conference.”
Fahnestock wasn’t the only bright spot in Saturday’s victory. The Rams saw another impressive performance from sophomore outside hitter Jaime Strauss, who had 12 kills and 11 digs. Sophomore setter Ashley Fornstrom had a career-high six kills along with 37 assists.
TCU, which drops to 13-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play, was limited to a conservative hitting percentage of .103 against the Rams. Its hitting errors outnumbered CSU’s 21 to 13.
Friday night was also a good night for the team, which won comfortably over New Mexico 30-16, 31-29, 30-25. It was the Rams’ first win in Mountain West play, after being beaten by both Utah and BYU on the road last weekend. The loss dropped the Lobos to 5-9 overall and 1-2 in conference.
Fahnestock was key in the New Mexico match as well, finishing the night with nine kills and a .278 hitting percentage. Senior outside hitter Katherine Whitney, who put in 11 kills against the Lobos, credited her teammate in aiding the Rams’ success in transition.
“The transition game was good,” Whitney said. “We are working hard on keeping in tune with the middle blockers. Amanda did a great job with that tonight.”
CSU will now prepare for its next conference test, this Sunday at Wyoming. As Barnes’ health improves, Hilbert may have a tough task figuring out playing time between the ailing sophomore and the red-hot Fahnestock.
“You don’t take her off the court for no reason,” Hilbert said. “We’ve got three players (at middle blocker) that are very good. Amanda is a very athletic player. We might have to shift her to another position.”
Though she wants to be on the court, Fahnestock said she won’t be worrying about it.
“I don’t think that’s what I should be thinking about,” she said. “It’s not my decision. But when I get a chance I should take it.”
CSU has a full week off before traveling to face archrival Wyoming on Sunday.
Staff writer Jeff Dillon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MWC Standings: MWC Overall
1. BYU 4-0 12-1
2. Utah 4-0 11-2
3. TCU 2-1 13-3
4. Wyoming 1-1 7-5
5. CSU 2-2 7-6
6. UNLV 1-2 9-5
7. UNM 1-2 5-9
8. SDSU 0-3 5-9
9. Air Force 0-4 1-11