In their first true road test of the season, the CSU Rams volleyball team lost to the UNLV Rebels in four games, ending a 13-match winning streak. The Rebels did so by taking a page out of the Rams book — using a strong defense.
Facing the strong Rebel defense, the Rams (16-2, 6-1 MWC) converted only .198 of their attacks, well below their season average of .250, and recorded 25 hitting errors.
“UNLV’s defense was great,” said head coach Tom Hilbert. “It came down to serving and passing, and we couldn’t get the ball down in the final two sets.”
Senior Jaime Strauss led the team with 21 kills, while fellow senior Mekana Barnes recorded 13 kills with five blocks. Normally reliant, junior Tessa Nelson and sophomore Jacque Davisson were held to only four and seven kills, respectively.
“They have a really good defense. They keep rallies going, which caused us to lose our composure,” Strauss said.
Senior setter Ashley Fornstrom said the team was outworked.
“We got outworked, especially on defense,” Fornstrom said. “We also had a lot of errors on serving and serve-receive.”
The Rams recorded 11 serving errors compared to only two by the Rebels.
“It was their defense against our serve, and that’s what won the game for them,” Hilbert said.
Not all was lost, however, as Fornstrom notched 47 assists to become the MWC all-time leader, passing Wyoming’s Amy Doman. She now has 4,877 career assists.
The Cox Pavilion has not been kind to the Rams of late as they have now lost three straight to the Rebels in Las Vegas. UNLV (12-8, 5-2) essentially moves into a tie for first place in the MWC with CSU. The two play again Nov. 16 at Moby Arena.
The Rams continue their road trip with a match against conference foe San Diego State (6-11, 3-4) on Saturday. The Aztecs defeated Wyoming in five sets on Thursday night. The match begins at 2 p.m. MT.
Volleyball beat writer Stephen Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.