The CSU women’s volleyball team competed in its first tournament away from home this past weekend, finishing the three-match Kansas State Invitational with two wins and one loss.
The 2-1 road trip boosted the Rams’ home record to 7-3 but still left them without a victory against a top-ranked team.
After winning their first two road matches in Manhattan, Kan., against Louisiana State (3-3) and South Florida (4-5), the Rams lost to tournament host No. 12 Kansas State (10-2).
That loss, a three-game sweep, marks the third time this season CSU has lost to a ranked opponent, with Stanford (No. 4) and Cal-Berkeley (No. 22) being the others.
In game one, the Rams scored first and tied the score four times before the Wildcats rattled off three straight points.
The Wildcats held the lead the rest of the game to win 30-25. The Rams dropped game two by the same score.
CSU took the lead in game three at 11-8 and 28-25 before falling 33-31 in the end.
Senior outside hitter Becky Sarauer led the Rams with 16 kills – Katie Jo Shirley and Tess Rogers both had 13. Junior middle blocker Bri Frech had a team-best 10 digs and four blocks.
Kansas State’s all-tournament player, junior outside hitter Valeria Hejjas, led KSU with 13 kills. Senior libero Laura Downey-Wallace led all players with 14 digs.
In their first match of the tournament the Rams fared better against LSU.
After losing the first two games 30-21 and 30-23, the Tigers forced a game four after winning game three 30-27. The Rams won game four 30-13.
Four Rams scored double digits in kills with Frech leading with 13. Fellow junior middle blocker Shirley had 12 kills and led the team in digs (8) and blocks (5).
Junior setter Melissa Courtney recorded 51 assists and four service aces while hitting .875.
The match marked the first time this season that the Rams had more service aces (13) than errors (11).
“Melissa and Becky both served exceptional for us tonight,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “We let down in game three and I was disappointed in that, but we were able to re-focus and come back strong in the fourth game.”
LSU junior Regan Hood led both teams with 20 kills.
“I was proud of the way we fought today,” LSU head coach Fran Flory said in a press release. “(Hood) proved that she can play with the big dogs and hold her own.”
On Saturday the Rams swept the SFU Bulls in three games 30-20, 30-24 and 32-30.
Junior outside hitter Sarauer led the Rams with 16 kills and sophomore Tess Rogers had 13.
Junior transfer Kimi Foytich led CSU with 9 digs.
“I thought that we relied a lot on Tess and Becky and they did a nice job,” said Hilbert. “We also played really good defense early in the match and that set a tone for us.”
Senior Fran Pozzi had nine kills for LSU while junior middle blocker Shameka Mitchell led all players with 13 digs and four blocks.
The Rams will travel to Minneapolis, Minn. for the Diet Coke Classic next weekend. The Rams will face host Minnesota Friday night followed by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of North Carolina-Charlotte on