LARAMIE, Wyo.â€”The No. 23 CSU volleyball team led the University of Wyoming 14-13 in the fifth set Saturday night in Laramie, trying to close the match out with senior Katelyn Steffan serving, but she stepped over the back line for an error, which tied the set and required either team win by two.
After that the Rams had two more match points that they could not convert, and Wyoming won the set 18-16 and match 3-2.
â€œBoth teams played well in this match, but it came down to us making very poor decisions in endgame (situations),â€ CSU coach Tom Hilbert said.The Rams led 9-3 early in the fifth set, but allowed Wyoming to claw back in with an 11-3 run to tie the set at 14 and ultimately win it.
â€œDuring that time we have got to make better decisions, weâ€™ve got to compete more and weâ€™ve got to not play scared,â€ Hilbert said. â€œWe got to play to win and thatâ€™s what we did not do.â€
CSU won the first two sets convincingly and had a chance to finish the match in the third with the score tied at 23, but two attack errors by Steffan gave Wyoming new life.
â€œWe needed to see-saw back and forth with this team and thatâ€™s what we did,â€ said Wyoming junior outside hitter Jody Purdy.
Purdy finished with team-high 16 kills and 21 digs, including the 1,000th kill of her career.
Wyoming finished with four players in double-digit kills, and their two-setter attack worked effectively, with both Rachel Keyes and Whitney Smith posting more than 25 assists.
â€œWe havenâ€™t really seen a lot of that, but it doesnâ€™t give us any excuse there,â€ said CSU junior opposite hitter Dana Cranston. â€œWe need to do better. It was not a good effort by us, and thatâ€™s going to change.â€
Cranston finished with career-high 16 kills and 25 digs while providing offensive consistency late in the match.
â€œShe played great the whole match,â€ Steffan said of Cranston. â€œShe was really solid for us.â€
Steffan tied her career-high with 28 kills, but also had nine attacking errors and four service errors, some of which came at critical times in the match.
â€œHereâ€™s the deal: we canâ€™t just rely on Dana and Kate, we canâ€™t,â€ Hilbert said. â€œWe have to have better crunch-time production from the middles, and it wasnâ€™t happening.â€
Junior middle blockers Megan Plourde and Breion Paige combined for 20 kills and 16.5 blocks, but only hit .216 between them with nine total errors.
â€œTheyâ€™d get kills in rallies, but when we had to get them a ball on first swing, they couldnâ€™t get a
kill,â€ Hilbert said. â€œFrankly thatâ€™s ridiculous. We have to go back and fix it, thatâ€™s all there is to it.â€
The Rams will have to resolve their issues quickly because their next two matches are against the University of New Mexico and Texas Christian University, the second and third teams in the Mountain West standings behind CSU.
â€œYou donâ€™t sit here and dwell on this,â€ Hilbert said. â€œYou just move on.â€
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.
1.CSU 11-4 (4-1 MWC)
2.New Mexico 10-6 (3-1 MWC)
3.TCU 16-3 (3-2 MWC)
4.Wyoming 13-7 (3-2 MWC)
5.San Diego State 9-5 (3-2 MWC)
6.Boise State 11-8 (2-3 MWC)
7.UNLV 9-9 (2-3 MWC)
8.Air Force 3-15 (0-5 MWC)