After a 1-1 road trip that pushed the CSU volleyball team to the brink, the Rams (17-4, 9-1 MWC) are back in action tonight against Border War rival Wyoming (10-14, 1-9).
CSU is leading the Mountain West with only one conference loss that came last weekend to TCU. Wyoming’s Cowgirls are eighth in the conference and have only come away from one conference game victorious.
The Rams have the advantage in this match.
Last time the two teams met, CSU swept their neighbors from the north 3-0. Wyoming may have lost in straight sets inside their home gym the last time out with the Rams, but they did hang in.
The first and last sets were won after the Rams were forced to score more than the usual 25 points, and head coach Tom Hilbert said the Cowgirls have since gotten better.
“I think it will be a good a match,” Hilbert said. “They’re a different team athletically than what we’ve been playing, but they’re scrappy, they’re competitive and they really do some good things.”
The Rams are coming off a huge win against conference foe New Mexico. The see-saw match went five sets, had more than 40 ties and proved the Rams can play with maturity and confidence. Now, the Rams are planning to take what they learned from their last two matches into what should be an exciting contest.
“Any team can lose any day,” said setter Evan Sanders. “Every team is good at something, and if you let them get on a roll, it’s hard to stop them. We have to make sure we put pressure on Wyoming from the start.”
Every team is vulnerable, but the Rams are as close to impenetrable at home as possible. The Rams are riding a nine-game winning streak at Moby Arena and haven’t dropped a home match since Aug. 29. CSU gets its next three matches at home, and the players are happy to not have to travel.
“It’s always good to play in Moby,” said CSU’s kill leader, Danielle Minch. “We have a lot of time to get better at the little things, so we just really need to take advantage of it.”
The rivalry between the two teams is intense.
CSU and Wyoming stomp the same recruiting grounds and a win over the top-seated Rams would help legitimize a disappointing season in addition to the fact that the Cowgirls may feel like the last match slipped through their fingers – the recipe is right for revenge.
“They played us too tough last time, when we were there,” Minch said. “They are going to want to play us really tough, and they’re going to want revenge. So we really need to be on our toes and doing things right.”
Wyoming can whip up a good defensive scheme, so the Rams will have to play a solid and mistake-free offensive game to accomplish a win in convincing fashion. Sanders knows she will be the one quarterbacking the kills of her teammates, but feels confident that the Rams can disrupt the Cowgirls talented defense.
“All of our hitters are capable of putting a lot of pressure on Wyoming’s defense,” she said. “As long as I’m getting them good in-system balls so they can hit high shots and do what they do, then we should have no problem.”
Volleyball Beat Reporter Keith Robertson can be reached at email@example.com.