The Colorado State volleyball team opened its season in an impressive fashion this weekend, winning both games against quality opponents.
The Rams opened their season Friday night in front of a record-breaking crowd of 6,333 against Duke, the preseason co-favorite to win the ACC. CSU managed to win a hard fought affair 3-1 to start its season with a quality win.
Following the Duke match on Friday, the Rams faced the defending Southern Conference champions, Furman.
The Rams relied heavily on two of their senior leaders, Jacque Davisson and Danielle Minch, to lead them to victory. Twice Davisson served for seven points in a row, with two aces during each run. Minch led the team with 10 kills while hitting .368.
The Paladins showed plenty of pluck, especially in the second set when they were able to take what looked like a commanding 22-15 lead. Thatâ€™s when Davisson took over at the serving line, reeling off a seven-point run to grab momentum for the Rams.
â€œEvan (Sanders) actually looked at me, and she was like, â€˜I donâ€™t care, weâ€™re winning this game,â€™â€ Davisson said. â€œAnd I was like, â€˜Alright.â€™ So then I got the opportunity to go back to the service line and I think it was just kind of feeding off her.â€
After the run led by Davisson, CSU managed to win the set 27-25 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.
CSU won the third set to dispatch with the Paladins in straight sets in front of a crowd of 1,325 at Moby Arena.
Coach Tom Hilbert said that the comeback in the second set was the most impressive part of the match for his team, and a good learning experience.
â€œThe comeback in game two was pretty awesome,â€ Hilbert said. â€œI didnâ€™t call a timeout during their point run. It was like me saying, â€˜Hey, these guys have got to figure it out.â€™ We came back and beat them and that was a really nice competitive moment for this team.â€
Hilbert said that this week will be used in preparation for CU-Boulder on Tuesday and the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. starting Friday.
After returning from Florida, the team will get a chance to evaluate where it stands and what changes and improvements need to be made.
Ultimately, the two tough matches the Rams played this weekend simply reinforce the idea that CSU will have to continue to work for everything it gets.
â€œWhen you (face) a tough team, you always learn from it,â€ Minch said. â€œIt showed us that we need to continue to work hard at the small things and keep our expectations high and that we need to keep ourselves at high standards.â€
Volleyball beat reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at email@example.com.