The CSU volleyball team was stifled Friday night at Moby Arena, dropping their season opening match against the Pepperdine Waves in straight sets (25-23, 25-17, 25-14). The loss marked the end of the Rams 28-game home winning streak, and left coach Tom Hilbert with one question.
“Can we get better from this?” Hilbert asked, “It’s the question we need to ask ourselves.”
The Rams, despite years of success, are no stranger to slow starts, with a 2-6 record in opening matches over the past eight seasons.
“This shows us where we are and what we need to work on,” said senior middle blocker Tessa Nelson. “A lot can happen from here.”
Pepperdine’s up tempo style seemed to cause trouble for the Rams, who struggled to find rhythm in the blocking game. Especially troubling, was sophomore outside hitter Lilla Frederick, who led the Waves with 13 kills.
“(Frederick) was hitting a pretty fast ball,” said sophomore setter Evan Sanders. “It’s not something we replicate in practice.”
Along with the steady offensive output and challenging pace, Pepperdine also exhibited stout defense and passed the ball effectively. Altogether, it looked as if the Waves were in mid season form.
“We need to take each game as a learning experience this season, if we think too much about our record alone, we won’t feel good about ourselves,” said Hilbert.
Perhaps the lone bright spot for the Rams came in the form of the 3,876 raucous fans that packed Moby for the season opening match. Both student sections were well past capacity, creating a pristine volleyball environment.
“The crowd was awesome,” said Nelson. “I hope we showed them our games can be a lot of fun.”
The Rams will be forced to refocus quickly, as they take the court again tomorrow night against Oregon State.