The top spot in the Mountain West Conference will be in
contention this weekend, as the conference leading CSU volleyball
team hosts third place Brigham Young and runner-up Utah.
Ranked No. 18 nationally, the Rams are a perfect 7-0 in the MWC
and 16-4 overall heading into the second half of conference play.
Head coach Tom Hilbert knows that both BYU and Utah will be a
challenge for the Rams.
“Both of these teams are pretty similar,” Hilbert said. “Both
are dominated by middles and both are very hard to defend when they
are passing well.”
The Rams kick off the first of their last seven conference games
at 7 p.m. on Saturday night in Moby Arena against BYU (15-5, 5-2
MWC). The Cougars’ only conference losses are against CSU and
Juniors Katie Jo Shirley and Becky Sarauer led the Rams with 16
kills each in the teams’ meeting earlier this season when CSU swept
BYU in Provo, Utah. The last five times the two teams have faced
each other, the road team has won.
Both teams hit .260, which ties them for the conference lead.
The Cougars are the only team in the MWC to have three players
ranked in the top 10 for hitting with Lindsy Hartsock in second
place at .352, Carrie Bowers in ninth with .303 and Laura Nielsen
in 10th place at .300.
One major concern for the Rams is the health of outside hitter
Katie Jo Shirley. She has missed practices this week and is
questionable for the games this weekend.
“We’ve been preparing in case she can’t play, but we hope she
will,” Hilbert said. “She is pretty tough and I think she will
CSU enters the match riding a nine-game winning streak and looks
to continue their dominance in conference.
Following Saturday’s game, the Rams face Utah on Sunday at 4
p.m. in Moby. The match will be televised on College Sports
Television as part of the station’s Sunday Night Spikes broadcast
and game of the week.
Utah’s (12-6, 6-1) only conference loss came against CSU in Salt
Lake City. The Rams have beaten the Utes 12 of their last 14
matches including six straight at Moby Arena.
“We’re preparing for two tough matches this weekend,” said Utah
head coach Beth Launiere in a press release. “We’ll focus on
Colorado State once we’ve finished the Wyoming match (Saturday in
Laramie, Wyo.). At this point, every match is important in order to
attain our goal of a conference championship.”
MWC Player of the Week Kim Turner leads the Utes with an average
of 3.95 kills a game and a .310 hitting percentage. Launiere knows
the match will be a good one as the Rams have won three consecutive
regular season conference titles and the Utes have won two straight
conference tournament titles.
“We can win these matches if we come out and play our best,”
Hilbert said. “I think (BYU and Utah) are better teams than when we
played them last, but I think we are a better team too. We just
have to go out and show it.”