As they prepare for the last six games of the regular season, the CSU volleyball team is expecting a dog fight in every match.
CSU began the final stretch of the regular season Tuesday night with a hard fought win over the University of Denver at Hamilton Gym.
The Rams(16-5 9-2) defeated the Pioneers (17-11 11-3) in three games 30-28, 30-28 and 32-20.
Rams coach Tom Hilbert gave credit to DU for a quality match, saying that the Pioneers do very well in certain areas.
“Denver is good at what they do, and we had a very difficult time disrupting that,” he said. “I thought we served tough enough to get them out of system, but it didn’t really hurt them. I am pretty impressed with this team.”
The Rams needed more than 30 points to put DU away in game 3 as the Pioneers refused to give up. DU junior Kerry Porter blocked a CSU shot to put the Pioneers up 30-29.
After the point, Hilbert called a time out, a move that would pay off in the end. The Rams then took the next three points, including the match winner on a Danielle Minch kill.
CSU middle blocker Mekana Barnes was happy with the way her team ended the match.
“We struggled a little bit, but we finished,” the junior said. “When you play good teams you expect it to be close. The team that could finish games and be competitive at the end won.”
Outside hitter Jamie Strauss agreed that her team finished strong, but added that they still have a lot to improve on.
“It is good that we bounced back, but there are still a lot of things we need to work on.
We could have played better,” she said.
Barnes put forth an impressive effort in the win, gathering 16 kills and a .523 hitting percentage, her best in the last 13 matches. The 6-footer also hit two game points in the Rams’ win. Strauss and middle blocker Tessa Nelson also had good matches, chipping in 13 kills each.
Up next for the Rams is a showdown in California against the San Diego State Aztecs on Sunday.
Hilbert expects nothing but close matches from here on out. The Rams have six games left in the season, four of which are on the road.
“They are all going to be like this,” he said. “Every road match we play against every opponent is going to be like this. We just have to accept it and claw our way through to the win.”
Volleyball beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Player of the Game
.520 Hitting Percentage
2 game winning points