LARAMIE, Wyo. – Sometimes teams tend to let their guard down after gaining a big lead in a contest. Sometimes the players need to be reminded to stay in the game for the long haul.
CSU volleyball had one of those moments on Friday night during its four-game win over Wyoming. The Rams won the first two games 30-26 and 30-19, before falling in game three 30-19. The Rams then put the match away in game four 30-11.
“We got the match-up we wanted in the first two games and played really well,” said CSU coach Tom Hilbert. “The Cowgirls moved (Michele) Rauter around and shifted their rotation in the third game, and it threw us off of our game a little.”
It threw their game off so bad that the Rams, looking to put Wyoming away after playing well the first two games, fell to a 16-point deficit in game three. Looking to stir things up, Hilbert pulled starting middle blocker Michelle Knox in favor of freshman Melissa Dennett.
Though the Rams would end up losing the match, they put together a 7-2 run at the end of the game to build the momentum that would carry the Rams into the fourth game.
“Tom tried to make a few adjustments (early in the third game) and we just weren’t responding,” Knox said. “After the third game, Tom jumped on us a little and we responded to it. Learning to stay focused is something we need to learn to do ourselves though. It’s not Tom’s responsibility to make us keep our heads in the game.”
In the fourth game, Knox returned and led the Rams with six kills and committed no errors.
“After the third game, I asked Michelle to get back out there and make a difference,” Hilbert said. “She came back and hit extremely well.”
The rest of the team played nearly flawless in the fourth game as well and the Rams closed out the match with a 30-11 win. As a team they put up 15 kills, four blocks, hit .636 and committed only two errors.
“We played with more passion in the fourth game than we did in the first three games combined,” Knox said. “We got excited, and when we play with excitement we’re a much better team.”
-Edited by Jon Ackerman and Josh Hardin