Following a successful tournament in Arkansas, the CSU volleyball team hit a wall in Norman, Okla.
Again and again and again. The Sooners totaled 17 blocks on the evening en route to a 3-0 sweep of the Rams.
â€œThey force you into long rallies and then they finish those rallies with a kill or a block,â€
coach Tom Hilbert said. â€œTheyâ€™re aware and collected and know whatâ€™s going on. They won every long rally, which means that they are better at the game of volleyball then we are.â€
The Rams nearly extended the match to a fourth set, taking the first three points of the third set and leading up until Oklahoma middle blocker Carlee Roethlisberger, younger sister of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, put the Sooners ahead 11-10. Both teams traded points until Oklahoma went on a three-point spurt to take a 19-16 lead and close out the match.
â€œWe came back after being awful in the second set,â€ Hilbert said.
CSUâ€™s nearly flawless offense going back to the Arkansas Invitational faltered, hitting only .162 as a team and committing 15 total errors. The Rams looked at their worst in the second set, losing 15-25 and only finishing eight kills.
â€œWe didnâ€™t play with composure and maturity like we have been,â€ senior opposite hitter Katelyn Steffan said.
Steffan led CSUâ€™s offense with 11 kills, but only hit .184 and committed four errors for the match.
â€œKate played well, but you canâ€™t give her 38 swings against that good of a defense and expect her to carry you,â€ Hilbert said.
Players said the atmosphere was loud and raucous inside the McCasland Field House, something they hadnâ€™t encountered in any of the previous three matches.
Junior middle blocker Megan Plourde said she was â€œdeaf after the game.â€
â€œWe didnâ€™t come out ready for the environment. We needed to relax and play our game,â€ Steffan said. â€œWe didnâ€™t play with composure and maturity like we have been.â€
The Rams will use the match primarily as a learning experience, and try to move past it while getting on with their season.
â€œWe learned that weâ€™re not untouchable,â€ Steffan said. â€œWe need to keep playing good teams like this that can pick apart our flaws.â€
CSUâ€™s next match will be its highly anticipated home opener Friday, against No. 5 University of Nebraska.
Nebraska enters the match 2-0 after sweeping the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University earlier this season.
â€œWe need to regain our composure and come out fighting that night,â€ Steffan said. â€œWe donâ€™t want any more losses.â€
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What went wrong
CSU hitting percentage: .162
Oklahoma blocks:* 17*
Kill deficit: 14
Up next: #5 Nebraska
Sets lost: 0
Game starts: 7 p.m.