Five set matches are becoming the norm at Moby Arena. Colorado State (16-2, 6-0 MWC) defeated the TCU Horned Frogs 3-2 on Thursday night. It was the Ramâ€™s fourth consecutive five-set match at Moby.
Senior outside hitter Danielle Minch returned to action for CSU by notching a season-high 20 kills, 10 of them in sets four and five.
â€œIt might be because Iâ€™m a senior,â€ Minch said of her strong performance. â€œI just feel a fire when games are (close) like that.â€
Setter Evan Sanders and outside hitter Jacque Davisson both notched double-doubles for the Rams. Davisson had a season-high 20 digs and registered 14 kills, while Sanders contributed 50 assists and 21 digs. Five separate Rams tallied ten or more digs on the night, illustrating the teamâ€™s phenomenal defensive effort.
Sanders served a key ace late in the fifth set to give CSU a narrow 13-10 advantage and assisted on Minchâ€™s match-ending kill just a few points later.
â€œMy intent was getting Evan two turns at the serving line,â€ head coach Tom Hilbert said. â€œIt was important because she scored, and she got an ace at the very end, which was really critical.â€
The Horned Frogs (12-7, 3-2 MWC) were at match point in the second set, leading CSU 24-21 when the Rams went on a five-point run to take the set.
â€œThat was a great competitive moment for us,â€ said Hilbert, of the second set comeback.
Davisson was key in the second set, with five kills and seven digs in the frame.
TCU answered by winning the next two sets by identical 25-20 counts.
â€œThatâ€™s just a testament to (TCUâ€™s) maturity and their ability to come back and their drive and their fight,â€ Davisson said. â€œI think we need to see it because thatâ€™s what people are going to do to us in the NCAA tournament and for the rest of the season.â€
The win extends the Ramsâ€™ winning streak to seven and puts them two games ahead of the rest of the conference.
â€œWeâ€™ve worked hard and this has been our goal,â€ Sanders said. â€œSo I think weâ€™ve earned it.â€
The Rams improved to 9-0 at home this season and look poised to win a second straight conference championship.
â€œWe gotta win all of our conference home matches for sure,â€ Hilbert said. â€œIf we stumble once we can still win the conference, and if we stumble twice weâ€™re not gonna do it.â€
Nearly 2,200 fans witnessed the debut of Moby Arenaâ€™s new video board and were treated to an intense introduction featuring program accomplishments and player profiles.
Hilbert enjoyed the crowdâ€™s energy and expects the next match against the Horned Frogs to be equally difficult.
â€œI am not looking forward to (playing in) Fort Worth,â€ Hilbert said. â€œWe got a lot of energy from a good crowd tonight and a good environment.â€
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.