If the Rams had a score to settle against the Denver Pioneers on Wednesday night at Moby Arena, it certainly showed.
CSU put in what quite possibly was their best all-around performance of the season thus far, sweeping Denver 3-0 in a non-conference match-up. The Pioneers beat CSU last year at DU in four games.
The Rams (9-6, 3-2) were impressive offensively and defensively in the victory. The team totaled 42 kills, 15 blocks and finished with a .284 attack percentage.
DU (9-7) came into Wednesday’s match with a cumulative hitting percentage of .205 through 15 matches. The improving Rams defense held the visitors to a .000 percentage.
CSU now holds an 11-1 advantage in the all-time series, with the Rams’ only loss coming last year.
Head Coach Tom Hilbert was impressed with his team’s performance.
“This was as aggressive of a match as we’ve played,” Hilbert said. “We played well defensively, and our serving was great. We have not served better than we did tonight.”
Sophomore outside hitter Jaime Strauss finished the night with 14 kills and a .414 attack percentage. Junior right-side hitter Tonya Mokelki added 10 kills for the Rams, including five in the opening game.
Mokelki and the Rams flexed their muscle in the second game as well, as the Rams cruised to a 30-12 victory. The junior finished with three kills and a 1.000 hitting percentage in the team’s dominant performance.
The Pioneers did make game three tight, but the Rams were again too strong for their opponent, pulling away for a 30-19 win to close the match.
Strauss was particularly impressed with the team’s blocking game, which has been dominant in the team’s past two matches.
“This is the way it’s going to be the rest of the season,” Strauss said of the team’s blocking ability. “We’re getting more comfortable with each other.”
Freshman middle blocker Tessa Nelson agreed, saying the defense helped the Rams get the win.
“Our blocks build momentum,” she said. “It’s rewarding to see our hard work pay off.”
An additional positive for CSU in game three was the first appearance of the night for sophomore middle blocker Mekana Barnes, who has been hindered by an ankle injury. She played the entire third game, finishing with three kills.
CSU now heads back into the conference schedule with a match at Air Force on Friday at 6:00 p.m.