A seven-game winning streak, several nagging injuries, rematches with two teams they swept earlier this season and a significant amount of conference implications all accompanied CSU volleyball on a road trip this past weekend.
It all seemed to add up to a possible letdown for Rams volleyball. But the Rams showed poise and a healthy dose of determination as they won matches at Texas Christian (16-7, 4-5) and New Mexico (7-14, 3-6) to improve their overall record to 14-6 and their conference mark to 8-2.
But it certainly wasn’t easy.
Saturday night’s match with New Mexico started out looking like it would be similar to a dominant performance the Rams turned in on the Lobos four weeks ago. CSU built an early lead as big as 16 points and cruised to open with a 30-18 win.
Senior outside hitter Katherine Whitney had an impressive night for the Rams, finishing with 15 kills and a .306 hitting percentage. Sophomore setter Ashley Fornstrom had 44 assists in the winning effort.
On Friday night, the Rams faced a talented TCU Horned Frogs team that battled hard in a three-game sweep by the Rams in September. On their home court, the Frogs were an even tougher match.
TCU opened the night with the hot hand, winning the first game 30-26. The Rams had seven hitting errors and were held to an attack percentage of .119.
CSU responded well in the second, hitting only two errors in that game to achieve a 30-23 win. The Rams kept control of the match the rest of the way, hitting .567 in a 30-20 game three win, and had 17 kills in a 30-24 game four, icing the match.
Jaime Strauss tied her career-high with 19 kills and freshman middle blocker Tessa Nelson had 12 for the Rams.
This successful road trip keeps the Rams in the hunt for the Mountain West regular season title. CSU is still within striking distance of Utah and Brigham Young, who come to Fort Collins in mid-November.
But first, the Rams get to face two other conference opponents who will be looking for a bit of revenge.
Wyoming, who the Rams beat in four games in Laramie earlier this year, visits Moby Arena on Thursday.
On Nov. 2, CSU plays host to the Air Force Falcons, who the Rams dominated in Colorado Springs.
Volleyball beat writer Jeff Dillon can be reached at email@example.com.
MWC Standings: MWC Overall
1. Utah 9-0 18-2
2. BYU 9-1 18-2
3. CSU 8-2 14-6
4. UNLV 5-4 14-7
5. TCU 4-5 16-7
6. New Mexico 3-6 7-14
7. Wyoming 2-6 8-11
8. San Diego State 2-8 8-14
9. Air Force 0-10 3-17