Nov 062011
 
Authors: Kyle Grabowski

On the CSU volleyball team’s senior night, its lone senior shone brightest.

Katelyn Steffan fired home a match-high 14 kills in her last game in Moby Arena to lead the Rams to a 3-0 win over the University of Wyoming.

“I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to cry, and I think I bawled. I had my ugly crying face on too,” Steffan said. “It was hard to wipe the tears away and get going at first, but we were in system a lot and that helped get the jitters out.”

She blasted the final two kills to end the match in the third set, ending a furious Wyoming rally trying to extend the match to a fourth set.

CSU won the first two sets in the teams’ first matchup of the season, but lost three straight sets and the match after that.

“I went into the locker room between (sets) two and three, and I didn’t say anything,” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said. “The fact is you just have to go out and execute, and that’s what we did.”

The Rams started the match strong, building an early 13-3 lead in the first set on a 9-0 run powered by the serving of freshman defensive specialist Carlie Foust. Foust collected three aces during the stretch and helped set the tone for the match, in which CSU had 11 aces.

“The bigger run that I get, the more comfortable I get,” she said.

Service pressure and blocking helped carry CSU, because the Rams only hit .221 for the match and had 21 attacking errors.

“We were very high error hitting today, kind of weird,” Hilbert said. “Most of our errors were deep. They were aggressive errors, but I can live with those.”

Even though their offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders, the Rams’ defense proved to be the difference in the match, producing eight total team blocks and 44 digs to Wyoming’s 19.

“I thought we blocked the ball very well today. We only had eight blocks, but we did a great job blocking because it fouled them up,” Hilbert said. “If you look at the difference in digs it’s monumental.”

Nearly 3,400 fans attended the match, the second highest figure of the season only to the team’s opening night victory over Nebraska.

“I think that there were a lot of distractions for us,” Wyoming coach Carrie Yerty said. “CSU was certainly awaiting our arrival.”

The win, in addition to avenging CSU’s only conference loss of the season, clinched at least a share of the Rams’ third consecutive regular season Mountain West title. In past years this would have clinched a birth in the NCAA tournament, but the conference is hosting a tournament this year, and the Rams need to win the tournament for an automatic bid.

Before the tournament, however, the Rams travel to the University of New Mexico and Texas Christian University to close out the regular season.

“It’s a tough road trip, but we’ve had tough road trips earlier in the year,” Steffan said. “We have to get in the mindset that we have to play on the road for a few weekends.”

Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

Rams win with defense

Blocks: 8

Digs: 44

Opponent hitting percentage: -.024

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