It’s hard to describe a game as a rivalry when one team has beaten the other 20 consecutive times, but whenever CSU and Wyoming get together, the energy certainly is ratcheted up a notch.
The proximity of the two schools and the simmering hatred, mostly seen in the highly competitive football and basketball match-ups, will carry over to the volleyball court tonight (7 p.m. at Moby Arena) as the Rams look to continue their winning streak against the Cowgirls that dates back to 1997.
Despite the Border War being more of a slaughter in the last decade, the Rams know that what has happened in the past won’t help them in this match — it will actually put more pressure on them.
“I told my team today that the pressure is on us because we have won this so many times in a row. Wyoming won’t have any pressure on them, so they will come to play,” said head coach Tom Hilbert.
The match holds a bit of extra motivation for Rams senior Ashley Fornstrom, who grew up in Cheyenne, Wyo.
“It was kind of a surprise to people back home that I came (to CSU). I wasn’t ever recruited by Wyoming, so I think there is more of an incentive to win,” said Fornstrom, the reigning Mountain West Setter of the Year. “I hear plenty about (the rivalry) from a lot of people at home.”
The No. 13 Rams (10-1, 2-0 in MWC) are currently riding a 21-match winning streak at Moby Arena, but they expect that the home court advantage will be lessened this match, due to the number of Wyoming fans who will make the roughly 60-mile trip to Fort Collins.
“When we are here (in Moby) we expect to win every game,” said Audrey Hemmings, a defensive specialist. “Since (Laramie) is so close, a lot of their fans can come to watch, so it makes it a little more competitive when you have people cheering against you in your home gym.”
Wyoming is only 2-9 on the season, but they are a dangerous team. The Cowgirls’ swept Utah in their last match. On Aug. 18, Utah lost to the Rams in five tough sets at Moby.
“They lost some tough five-set games this year, and are coming off a big win over Utah,” said Hilbert. “They have the ability to step it up, so we are treating them as a very high quality opponent.”
If the Rams get out to a comfortable lead, Hilbert said he might juggle the lineup, but he might be forced to sooner than he wants, as CSU opposite hitter Katelyn Steffan “tweaked” her knee during practice on Thursday, according to Hilbert.
The freshman will be a game-time decision, and if she can’t play, Hilbert said sophomore Danielle Minch will take over for the Rams.
Staff writer Matthew Pucak can be reached at email@example.com.