It started with anticipation Thursday evening at Moby Arena and ended with domination on the part of the CSU volleyball team, which downed conference rival BYU in convincing fashion (25-15, 25-16, 25-20).
The Rams (15-3, 7-0 MWC) opened the match by winning seven consecutive points behind the service of junior outside hitter Jacqui Davisson. The Cougars, who are the seventh different Mountain West victim of the Rams this season, entered the match shorthanded without the services of their star senior outside hitter Kayla Walker, who was inactive with an ankle sprain.
“Their best attacker was out,” head coach Tom Hilbert said, “Which made them predictable in certain areas. We played consistently and defended better than they did.”
The absence of Walker was evident throughout, as the Cougars lacked a go-to hitter, leading to low conversion rates and missed opportunities. For the match, BYU hit just .088 and committed 19 attack errors. Meanwhile, the home standing Rams hit at a .295 clip and had 21 more digs than BYU.
No player was more instrumental, in the Rams commanding victory, than senior middle blocker Tessa Nelson, who led the team with 10 kills, while committing no errors in the process.
“We were in system throughout the whole match,” Nelson said. “We were well prepared.”
The Rams now must put their 11 game winning streak on the line Saturday afternoon at Moby Arena, as Utah (13-6, 6-1 MWC) comes to town hoping to knock CSU off the top of the MWC standings.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Nelson said. “It’s always fun to play Utah at home, especially this season.”
The Utes are coming off a surprisingly difficult five set victory over conference foe Wyoming on Thursday evening. Karolina Bartkowiak, the Utes’ junior opposite hitter, is quickly gaining notoriety as the winner of three MWC Player of the Week awards. The Polish-born Bartkowiak is best known for her two way game, recording nine double-doubles in the Utes’ 19 games.
The Rams will need to continue their aggressive play in order to run their winning streak to twelve. For now, the team is confident in who they are.
“We’re basically relentless with everything we do,” said sophomore setter Evan Sanders, who tallied 35 assists against the Cougars. “We showed that tonight by being super scrappy.”
The Rams’ match against Utah on Saturday gets underway at 1 p.m. and will be aired live at 90.5 KCSU-FM.
Volleyball Beat Reporter Joel Hafnor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.