LARAMIE, WYO. – At 7-1 in the Mountain West, the CSU volleyball team could not ask for a better start to its conference schedule.
The Rams (13-4, 7-1) completed the first half of their conference schedule by defeating the University of Wyoming (8-9, 2-6) Saturday night in Laramie. The Cowgirls made it a close match, but the Rams prevailed in three games (30-27, 30-20 and 30-28).
Wyoming came out in game one looking to force balls past CSU’s blockers. Wyoming seniors Rachel Smith and Angie Hellbaum were effective for the Cowgirls, hitting a combined 9 kills in the game, but the Rams pulled out the win as outside hitter Jamie Strauss stepped up and hit crucial kills late.
CSU’s blocking improved in games two and three as the Rams laid down a total of 23 blocks in the 3-0 win. Junior Mekana Barnes recorded a team-high nine blocks in the match.
Katelin Batten explained that the Rams blocking scheme helped to propel them to a victory.
“I think we just kind of battled in,” Batten said. “I was talking to the blockers about where the ball was going through their hands and they fixed it. It was good the way they talked to each other and responded.”
Hilbert agreed, adding that the team had prepared for Wyoming well.
“We were doing in the second game what we meant to do in the first game,” he said. “In the second game we were in a match-up we practiced. We had a little release blocking scheme that worked well, especially against some of their two hitter rotations.”
Barnes said that the team’s blocking has been a big part of their success this season.
“I think we are a really good blocking team, especially when we do what we need to on specific players,” the middle blocker said. “This game we were disciplined, getting over the net and not just high. We always need to be low and tight on our blocks, but we are good.”
CSU currently leads the MWC in blocking posting 361 blocking assists on the season.
Batten is pleased with her team’s performance in conference play but is not ready to be content.
“I am happy with how we are doing so far,” the second-year starter said. “We all have a goal right now and that is to win conference. Every time we practice we are focusing on that goal and getting better.”
Hilbert won’t focus on this win much but will instead look to the tough week ahead. The Rams are scheduled to host Brigham Young University on Thursday and then Utah on Saturday.
“It is all about the next games,” the 18-year head coach said. “We have to be good against BYU and Utah, better than we were here. I think our players know that. We just have to look at growing and getting better in specific areas.”
Volleyball beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com
Match 1 2 3 Final
Wyoming 27 20 28 0
#23 CSU 30 30 30 3
Oct. 13 in Laramie, Wyo.
Player of the Game
CSU- 30 30 30
UW- 27 20 28