Despite beating one of the toughest teams in the conference in four games, coach Tom Hilbert was still somewhat disappointed in the way the CSU volleyball team played.
The Rams (10-4 5-1) handed the University of Nevada Las Vegas (11-3 2-2) only their third loss of the season, 30-25, 30-27, 23-30 and 30-28, maintaining a perfect record at home and extending their conference lead to two games.
After committing three straight service errors to begin game 4, CSU picked up their pace to take a 7-5 lead. The rebels would battle back, earning an 11-12 advantage.
The Rams would answer with critical kills from outside hitters Jamie Strauss, Danielle Minch and middle blocker Mekana Barnes, taking a 25-23 lead. UNLV stayed close throughout, but the Rams would eventually prevail, winning game four, 30-28 and the match 3-1.
Hilbert was happy to get a win but saw many things his team needs to improve on, mainly its serving.
“Obviously we had way too many service errors,” the 18-year head coach said. “They were errors from being tentative and from fear. We got to get over that. I feel happy with the way we hit the ball and competed, but we put ourselves in a very difficult position with our serving and passing game. We are at home and we should be doing that better than we did tonight.”
UNLV came out strong in game three, leading by as many as nine and grabbing its only win of the match.
Hilbert removed key players throughout the game, giving them a chance to rest and refocus. It was a move that would pay off for him by the end of the game.
“I think a lot of times it is just a good idea for them to come out of the game and watch a little bit,” Hilbert said. “Sometimes it is good to let players gather themselves.”
Minch agreed, explaining that watching from the bench helped her get a hold of things.
“It gave me time to see what I was doing wrong and refocus,” the true freshman said. “I would rather play through it, but it is kind of nice to sit, settle down and figure it out.”
CSU came out strong in the first two games, outscoring UNLV by a combined total of 60-52.
Junior setter Ashley Fornstrom had an impressive match, posting six kills, 10 digs and 60 assists. Junior outside hitter Jamie Strauss also played well, chipping in 23 kills and eight digs.
With the win, CSU extends their Mountain West Conference lead. Fornstrom is happy about the position her team is in after this week.
“It is kind of a relief because there was a lot of pressure to win these two games,” the junior explained. Getting a cushion definitely feels better than being in the middle of the pack.”
Volleyball beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at collegian.colostate.edu
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