For the first time in five seasons, CSU volleyball lost in the state of Utah on Friday night, falling victim to the Utah Utes, 30-26, 30-21, 30-24.
Utah was led by preseason All-Mountain West outside hitter Airial Salvo, who had 11 kills and setter Sydney Anderson, who had 39 assists. Leading the Rams in defeat was Mekana Barnes and Tonya Mokelki, who 11 and 9 kills, respectively.
CSU seemed to be unable to overcome the Utah crowd, which consisted of this many people and a 29-piece marching band. Head Coach Tom Hilbert thought his player’s errors were not brought on by the crowd.
“I’m looking at the X’s and O’s, I don’t if the crowd influenced the mistakes, I really don’t think ,” Hilbert said.
Mokelki also did not think the crowd played a role in the Rams loss.
“I hardly even noticed the crowd,” Mokelki said, “We just stayed focused on what we had to do.”
Hilbert believed that the reason for the shutout loss was a combination of things including the team’s inability to stop Utah once they had gained momentum.
“We had a couple of weak rotations,” Hilbert said. “They made long point runs and if we don’t let them have those point runs we would have stayed in the match a lot longer.”
Barnes was also impressed by Utah’s ability to continually attack the holes in the Rams defense.
“They played really well and put pressure on us,” Barnes said. “They kept getting point runs on us that we couldn’t stop.”
The final game of the match swung after a deciding rally with Utah leading 8-7. CSU was called for a double hit violation and then proceded to give up five straight points, leaving Utah a lead, which the Utes would not relinquish.
In the second game of the match, CSU was unable to overcome by Salvo, who had 9 kills, and six foot-seven inch middle blocker Emillie Toone, who was constantly rejecting Ram kill attempts.
CSU finished the second game with a zero hitting percentage, meaning the Rams had the same amount of errors as kills.
The opening game saw neck-to-neck action with both teams seemingly unable to take control of momentum. At one point during the first game, there were 11 straight changes-of-possession.
Utah finally gained control of the first game after CSU libero Katelin Batten served the ball into the net when the score was 28-26. Utah served out the game to take it, 30-26.
After the loss, CSU was also looking ahead to their match against Brigham Young on Saturday.
“We have to keep getting better and better, there is a lot we can take from tonight and improve on for tomorrow,” Mokelki said.