Sunday may be a day of rest for some, but not for the No. 9 CSU
The Rams will take on No. 3 Nebraska at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon
in Lincoln in the second game of a traveling weekend.
The team’s road trip begins tonight in Laramie, Wyo., as the
Rams (19-2, 10-1 Mountain West Conference) will look to buck the
Wyoming Cowgirls (13-10, 6-5).
The CSU/Nebraska matchup, billed as the Game of the Week by the
American Volleyball Coaches Association, features two top-10 teams
that figure to reach postseason play, part of the reason CSU head
coach Tom Hilbert set it up.
“I hope to get the team to understand what it’s like to play one
of the best teams in the country in the end of the season,” Hilbert
The Huskers (19-1) have not lost a game since Sept. 10, when
they lost 1-3 to No. 24 Florida A&M. They made quick work of
Texas Tech Wednesday night, holding the Red Raiders to a negative
hitting percentage before a sold-out crowd of 4,110. Tech became
the sixth team to hit negative numbers against Nebraska this
“They’re a great team. They’re very athletic,” Hilbert said.
“They’re much taller in every position.”
Junior middle blocker Melissa Elmer and freshman right-side
hitter Sarah Pavan combined for 27 kills in the victory. Elmer
leads the team with a .340 hitting percentage and 1.81 blocks per
game while Pavan has a team best 4.48 kills per game. Hilbert
called Pavan “the best right-side hitter in the United States.”
Sophomore libero Amanda McCormick is digging up 4.51 balls per
game. As a team, the Huskers are hitting .285 with 17.1 kills and
3.8 blocks per game.
Most likely the Huskers fans will be out in full force, having
sold out their last 50 home games.
“That’ll be something different for us to play with,” said CSU
junior outside hitter Casey Bauer, who has faced Nebraska twice in
On the other side of the net, the Rams have hit .299 with 17.4
kills and 3.1 blocks per game. Junior outside hitter Tess Rogers is
hitting 3.85 kills per game to lead the Rams, while senior middle
blocker Katie Jo Shirley-Cahoon leads the team in attack percentage
with .406. Senior middle blocker Bri Frech is the team block leader
with 1.42 per game.
The Huskers and Rams have squared off six times, with Nebraska
taking a 5-1 lead after a 2001 win at Nebraska. The Rams have never
won in Lincoln and last beat the Huskers in 1987 in Fort
But before the Rams reach Nebraska, Wyoming is on the table for
a rematch of the Border War.
“We’re preparing for Wyoming first,” Hilbert said. “They’ve
changed one of their outside hitters – it’s now Andrea Tuck. She’s
doing really well. They moved Sarah Maytorena to the right side.
It’s kind of like playing a different team.”
Under first-year head coach Pat Stangle, the Cowgirls are having
one of the best years in recent memory, especially at home where
they are 8-3.
Setter Amy Doman, middle blocker Jill Roslund, outside hitter
Maytorena and libero Vanessa Latimer, all seniors, will play their
final home game.
“Any time your seniors are finishing up at home it’s an
emotional time,” Stangle said. “(This year is) their best result so
The freshman stepped up for Wyoming with middle blocker Shelby
Heggie leading the hitters with a .335 hitting percentage. Outside
hitter Rachel Smith and Heggie are both hitting 2.33 kills per
game, second to Maytorena, who averages 3.52.
“You’re never sure what the freshmen are thinking or knowing, so
we’ve just asked them to go out and play,” Stangle said. “They’ve
done a nice job doing that. I think we’ve gotten better.”
The Rams have won the last 13 matches against Wyoming, including
the Oct. 8 game in Fort Collins, but they will expect a lot of
noise from the Wyoming fans.
“I consider it a pretty hostile environment,” Hilbert said.
“They have the fans right behind you.”
It’s no mystery that being at home behind the support of rowdy
fans has helped the Cowgirls.
“We’re more comfortable at home. It’s a very intimate
environment,” Stangle said. “I just think it’s a great home
The Rams will look to feed off the negative energy.
“It’s a border war,” Bauer said. “Their crowd can be pretty
rowdy. CSU fans don’t really go up there. We want to play better
when we have people cheering against us. We use it to get fired