CSU didn’t have its leading hitter on the court Friday night against the Air Force Falcons.
The team still won in three games.
A couple of position changes were given a shot in the Rams’ 30-14, 30-20, 30-16 win over Air Force in Colorado Springs.
The Rams improved to 4-2 in Mountain West play and 10-6 overall. Air Force fell to 0-6 in conference and 1-13 overall.
CSU was once again led by junior Amanda Fahnestock, who played mostly at outside hitter instead of her previous post at middle blocker. Fahnestock, filling in for usual outside hitter Jaime Strauss, finished with 12 kills, a .522 attack percentage and no hitting errors.
Strauss was rested to give Fahnestock a chance at the new spot.
“Tonight was nice because we got to see some people in different spots than we normally do,” said Head Coach Tom Hilbert. “(Hitter) is actually more of a natural position for Amanda. She did well.”
Fahnestock also felt good about the change.
“It was a great opportunity to get more time at outside hitter,” she said. “It’s been a while, but it felt good. I’ve been trying to be more vocal and be more of a leader on the court. ”
Another reason Fahnestock got the chance at outside hitter was that sophomore middle blocker Mekana Barnes returned in her largest role since being taken out of the Rams’ Sept. 16 match at Brigham Young. Barnes had been fighting a nagging ankle injury.
Barnes had eight kills and a .333 hitting percentage against the Falcons, her best performance since Sept. 15 against Utah the night before she was pulled.
Hilbert was happy to see the sophomore back in her normal role for the Rams and said that it’s not just the injury that he wants to see improve for Barnes.
“She’s getting better, she’s probably going to play from here out,” Hilbert said. “We need her healthy, but there are other issues too. We need her to be more emotive out there.”
Barnes said she is starting to feel closer to 100 percent.
“It’s nice to be back out there and helping my team out,” she said. “I’m just trying to get back in my rhythm.”
Barnes was fifth in total kills last year as a freshman. Three of the players who finished above her in that category – Tess Rogers, Casey Bauer and Dre Downs – are gone this year. Her aggressiveness is what prompted Hilbert to call Barnes the team’s “go-to player” at the start of the year.
“We are a much better team when we have Mekana out there,” said Hilbert.
All of the position moves seemed to work out nicely against Air Force. CSU controlled every game in the match and held the home team to a .079 hitting percentage.
CSU had only 10 errors in the match, while the Falcons had 21. The Rams won the match in a quick one hour and 22 minutes. It was its second-fastest win of the year, the fastest coming in last Wednesday’s one hour, 18-minute win over Denver.
Despite the speed and score of the match, Hilbert had plenty of praise for the Air Force team and its program.
“That’s a good group of kids they have, they won’t ever quit,” he said.
Volleyball beat reporter Jeff Dillon can be reached at email@example.com.
MWC Standings: MWC Overall
1. Utah 6-0 14-2
2. BYU 5-1 14-2
3. CSU 4-2 10-6
4. UNLV 3-2 12-5
5. TCU 3-3 14-5
6. Wyoming 2-3 8-7
7. New Mexico 2-4 6-11
8. San Diego State 1-5 7-11
9. Air Force 0-6 1-13