Ailing Rams hope to find relief in San Diego
By Lee Miller
Bruised from last week’s battering, but eager to move on, the CSU volleyball team left Wednesday for sunny California and a tournament hosted by the University of San Diego.
The Rams will try to get back on track this weekend, but will have some tough competition standing in their way. The tournament includes games against Columbia and Robert Morris in addition to USD.
The team was still unsure about the playing status of senior middle blocker Michelle Knox (sprained ankle) and sophomore setter Melissa Courtney (back spasms) when it left Wednesday. Neither player practiced this week.
Freshman outside hitter Tess Rogers also missed practice due to a concussion she suffered in last Saturday’s Coors Classic.
If the Rams are to play without all three players, they will have to rely on freshman outside hitter Andreya Downs to do the setting. Downs has been working hard this week to prepare for her increased responsibility.
“Whatever helps us win, I’ll do it,” said Downs
The Rams will also have to deal with a thin lineup if Knox, Courtney and Rogers are unable to play. Freshmen Casey Bauer and Melissa Dennett will get increased time on the court. Bauer has started three matches this season, and Dennett has had minimal playing time.
With them on the court, they will have no one left on the bench to fill in. Freshman Melva Johnson is redshirting this season while she recovers from reconstructive surgery on her ACL. Coach Tom Hilbert is doing everything possible to make sure freshman setter Gwen Davis redshirts as well.
The Rams’ first obstacle will be Columbia on Friday. Columbia is 5-4 this season and went 1-2 last weekend in the Spring Hill Suites Classic in Charlotte, N.C. senior middle blocker Kathy Lavold, who has team-bests in kills per game (3.79) and blocks (1.31), leads the Lions. Senior outside hitter Katie Beauregard is hitting .246 and leads the team with .54 service aces per game.
This will be the first meeting between the Rams and the Lions.
Robert Morris enters the tournament in the midst of a very successful season. The Colonials have won nine of their last 11 games and, at 11-6, have the best record in the Northeast Conference.
Freshman outside hitter Morgan Bell has made some great first impressions for the Colonials this season. She leads the team with 185 kills and has been playing well on defense with 182 digs. The Colonial’s setter, Darcey Miller, is posting 10.15 assists per game and is also a Colorado native, playing her high school ball in Boulder.
This will also be the first match ever played between the Rams and the Colonials.
Finally, the hosts of the tournament look to be the toughest opponents for the Rams. The San Diego Toreros are knocking on the door of the top 25 with an 11-3 start. They staked their territory in California last week with wins against San Diego State and Sacramento State, and dropped a match to UC Riverside on Tuesday in three games.
The Toreros’ only loses this year were to some tough teams. They first lost to then-No. 23 North Carolina. Their second loss came against then-No. 5 Long Beach State, and the third to Fresno State two weeks ago.
The Rams will need to look out for outside hitter Noel Frohman, whose 4.81 kills per game and 182 digs are both team bests.
Sophomore Devon Forster is another product of Boulder High School who will try to give the Rams fits this weekend. She is second on the team in kills behind Frohman with 208, and is averaging .51 service aces per game.
The Toreros are looking to avenge a four-game loss to the Rams from last season at Moby.