CSU volleyball returned to the Fort with two more conference victories under its belt after winning matches against Air Force and New Mexico over the weekend.
The Rams improved their conference record to 5-0 and their overall record to 13-6 with the two important road wins.
In Friday night’s match against Air Force, the Rams overcame early service troubles and finished with an impressive three-game sweep over the Falcons, 30-21, 30-20, 30-27. Freshman Tess Rogers led the team in kills with 11 and committed only two attack errors on the night to give her a season-best .692 hitting percentage.
Michelle Knox added 10 kills and four blocks, and Katie Jo Shirley had nine kills as well.
“Katie Jo did a fantastic job of sideout volleyball, especially at the end of games,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “We didn’t work as hard as I would have liked, but our sideout game was good enough to win in three on the road, which is especially tough in this league.”
The Rams gave up six points to service errors in the first game, but managed to win by nine points after posting an efficient .583 team hitting percentage. They rattled off a 7-2 run to finish the game after Air Force had pulled within four.
The Rams used another large run of points to jump out to a 22-12 lead in the second game, and stepped up the defensive game with five blocks. They also turned the service game around with fewer errors and more aces.
Game three was more competitive than the first two with the teams tying 14 times before the Rams took a 22-20 lead. Melissa Courtney served up an ace to clinch match point and finish off the Falcons.
CSU held Air Force to a .138 hitting percentage for the match, and contained Falcon outside hitter Delavane Diaz to five kills. Diaz was second in the conference in kills per game going into the match.
The Rams continue to own the Falcons as the win was No. 16 in an all-time series of 17 games between the two teams.
The Rams followed up the win in Colorado Springs with a four-game victory over New Mexico, 26-30, 30-21, 30-26, 30-22.
“I felt like we struggled through this match because we made enough errors to keep New Mexico in it,” Hilbert said. “(UNM) played well in the first game but our older players stepped up and did some good things.”
Rogers once again led the charge with 20 kills. She had help from Knox and Dre Downs, who put up 16 and 14 kills, respectively. Melissa Courtney had five aces and 60 assists on the night, and Lindsey Kerr finished with 19 digs.
CSU had trouble in the first game and was down by as many as seven points at times. It got some great serving from Shirley and Courtney to keep them in the game, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
The Rams led the entire second game and most of the third, and won both of games on service aces. The Lobos jumped out to a seven-point lead in game four, but the Rams rode the arm of Rogers to close out the game and the match.
“I feel like we got a ‘C’ on our serving and passing, and we need to get to a ‘B’ on the road,” Hilbert said. “Because of that, we struggle and we really shouldn’t, but it’s part of growing up.”
The Lobos had only 45 kills in the four-game match, compared to CSU’s 72. Vanessa Shields was the only Lobo with double figures in kills with 11.
The Rams finished the night with 11 aces and, for the first time this season, had more aces than service errors. They are back in Fort Collins next week, and will have their hands full with BYU and Utah coming to town.
-Edited by Jon Ackerman and Josh Hardin