Sep 022008
Authors: Matthew Pucak

Last week the CSU volleyball team was a bit sick of practicing against themselves and in need of some competition.

This week, after sweeping their three matches in the Hilton Classic, the No. 17 ranked Rams aren’t content with their performance and have been working to address the flaws that they diagnosed this weekend.

“We were good on some things, and there are some that we need a lot of work to improve on,” said head coach Tom Hilbert. “We had good blocking and good defense, but we struggled at outside hitter some. We really need to grow up as an attacking team.”

Hilbert was looking to see who would step up in the battle for the outside hitter position among Jamie Struass, Jacque Davisson and Danielle Minch, but he said no one stepped up and asserted herself.

“That is a good question, if anyone stepped up. We will have to keep looking at it. Strauss stepped up in the first match, but then struggled on Saturday, while Jacque Davisson was the most consistent over the weekend, but no one really stood out,” said Hilbert.

Hilbert did point out that players at other positions excelled over the weekend, including opposite hitter Katelyn Steffen, who had 27 kills overall during the three weekend games.

“It was nice, after sitting out last season and just practicing, to finally get to help the team out in the game and do well,” said the redshirt freshman from Dickinson, N.D.

The standout for the Rams overall was senior blocker Mekana Barnes, who started off the season by earning MVP honors for the tournament, but she knows that improvement for both herself and her team will be necessary if the Rams wish to keep their winning streak alive against tougher competition this weekend.

“It felt good to finally play someone else after beating up on each other in practice for so long, and it was nice to get those wins. Still, there is a lot we can work on in practice to make sure that we perform better this weekend, especially on the road,” said Barnes, the reigning Mountain West Conference player of the year.

The Rams leave the friendly confines of Moby Arena this weekend for the first time to travel to Corvallis, Ore., for the Asics Classic, where the Rams will match up against Oregon State, Pacific, and Pepperdine.

Volleyball beat writer Matthew Pucak can be reached at

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