The No. 15 CSU volleyball team completed an undefeated first half of Mountain West Conference play Friday night with a win over Wyoming.
The Rams won 25-20, 25-17, 25-17 in front of an â€œorange outâ€ crowd of 2,985 behind dominant performances from seniors Danielle Minch and Jacque Davisson, who ended the match with 12 kills each.
CSU (19-2, 8-0 MWC) is now faced with a tough second half of conference play, with its trickiest road matches yet to play.
â€œWe play those teams that we beat here and now we go on the road to play them,â€ Minch said. â€œItâ€™s going to be a lot harder, and we need to really buckle down and work on our stuff in order to go on the road and beat them again.â€
CSU has arguably three of its toughest road matches remaining. The Ramsâ€™ travels in the second half of MWC play include stops at the arenas of San Diego State, Wyoming and TCU â€“â€“ the site of CSUâ€™s only conference loss a season ago.
When CSU played San Diego State earlier this season at Moby Arena, the Rams won a back-and-forth affair in five sets. Against TCU, the Rams won the first two sets, only to see TCU come back to send the game to a crucial fifth set, which the CSU won 15-12.
The Rams have dominated conference foes on their home court for years. CSU has won 28 straight MWC matches at Moby, dating back to 2006.
The Rams know that it will take added focus to beat the same opponents on the road.
â€œWe need to come into those matches with the same intensity that we came into them with when we played at Moby,â€ Davisson said. â€œWe need to come out fired up when we play on the road.â€
So far, the Rams have been able to dominate the MWC with solid play on both sides of the ball. The CSU offense is shooting a conference-best .263 behind the play of Minch and Davisson, who have 223 and 217 kills, respectively.
CSU has complemented its lethal attack with stifling team defense. Opponents are hitting a paltry .127 while the Rams are averaging three blocks per set, led by sophomore Megan Plourde, who is averaging 1.48 blocks per set.
The Rams have a sizeable lead in the conference play, due in part to the parity of the teams below them who keep beating each other. Odds highly favor CSU to win the MWC, but going undefeated in conference play would provide the Rams with the opportunity to achieve favorable seeding in the NCAA tournament.
The Rams are determined to remain focused and not let up despite their lead in the standings.
â€œI think we expect to be challenged by every team,â€ setter Evan Sanders said. â€œIf we donâ€™t stay on our stuff then crazy things could happen.
â€œI think itâ€™s important for us to take everybody seriously, which we have up to this point,â€ she said. â€œWe realize that everybody is out to get us.â€
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at email@example.com.