Colorado State prevailed Thursday night in a five-set match to win the â€œbattle of the ramsâ€ against Virginia Commonwealth.
CSU knew coming in that VCUâ€™s 1-10 record wasnâ€™t indicative of the type of team they are. They knew that they could be in for a tough match: And thatâ€™s just what CSU got.
â€œYou donâ€™t want to wake them up. Theyâ€™re getting better,â€ CSU coach Tom Hilbert said. â€œTheyâ€™ve got some players. They had us on the ropes.â€
After the first set, there was nothing to indicate that CSU was in for its toughest match of the year. CSU won set one convincingly, 25-16. VCU came back to win sets two and four, after CSU won set three.
CSU came out with force in the fifth set after a pep talk from Jacque Davisson pumped the team up. VCU lost some composure, committing six attacking errors, and CSU won the set 15-7.
â€œOur mindset (going into the fifth set) was â€˜this is our match, weâ€™re going to win thisâ€™,â€ said sophomore Megan Plourde.
CSUâ€™s defense was key, especially in the first and fifth sets, forcing errors out of VCU. VCU had eight attacking errors in the first set and six in the fifth set when CSU was in complete control.
While many people may see the fact that it took CSU five sets to beat a team with such a poor record as a bad sign, the team viewed this match as a learning experience and something that will help them grow as the opening of conference play looms in the next week.
â€œWe needed this. We needed a five-game match,â€ Hilbert said. â€œItâ€™s a good experience for us. If we get into a tough situation, we need to play tough and get out of it, and we did that.â€
Following Thursday nightâ€™s win, CSU (9-1) faces its first top-25 showdown at home this season when the Rams face No. 24 Long Beach State. It will be the second matchup for the Rams against a top-25 team this season, losing to then-No. 6 Florida on Sept. 4 in Gainesville, Fla.
Since coach Hilbertâ€™s arrival in 1997, CSU holds a 23-10 record at Moby Arena against ranked opponents. The Rams are counting on the home crowd to help them out Friday night.
â€œWe need our Moby Magic,â€ senior Danielle Minch said. â€œWe need our fans to come out and make (LBSU) uncomfortable.â€
LBSU holds a 6-2 record, with both of its losses coming against ranked opponents. The 49ers hold a 9-1 record all-time in meetings with CSU. The two schools last met in 2008 when the 49ers won a four-set match in Long Beach, Calif.
LBSU will face VCU at noon today at Moby Arena before its match with CSU, which begins at 7 p.m.
Volleyball beat reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at email@example.com.