Thursday night’s crowd at Moby Arena may not have set an attendance record for home volleyball matches, but it was certainly loud enough to influence the outcome.
A rowdy crowd of 2,316, hoping to eclipse the previous attendance record of 6,260, helped cheer on the Rams to a three-game victory over Wyoming. It was the Rams’ tenth straight victory and Wyoming’s seventh straight loss.
CSU (15-6, 9-2) never trailed against their border rivals, and finished with a hitting percentage of .291. The Cowgirls (8-12, 2-7) were limited to a .152 percentage, thanks in part to 11 blocks by the home team.
Rams players agreed that the crowd support was effective in helping the team build momentum against a scrappy Wyoming squad.
“It means a lot to us,” said sophomore outside hitter Jaime Strauss. “It goes to show that we do have a lot of student support.”
Game one was a tight battle between the two squads. The Cowgirls tied it up at 23 late in the game, but the Rams capitalized on several big kills, including the last one from sophomore Mekana Barnes to win it 30-28.
It was all CSU at the start of game two, as the Rams rattled off the first eleven points. Wyoming earned its first point on a kill by senior Andrea Seele to make it, 11-1. But the
Rams, led by freshman Tessa Nelson with 7 kills, pulled away for a 30-19 win. The eleven-point streak was the longest of the season thus far.
In the third and final game, Wyoming showed why few teams have been able to put them away quickly this season. The Cowgirls tied it up at 24, but CSU again was too strong for the visitors, separating themselves late for a 30-25 win.
“I thought we came out strong, especially in the second game,” said Strauss, who finished with 12 kills. “We played with a lot of maturity against a team that had nothing to lose.”
Sophomore middle blocker Mekana Barnes had 11 kills, as did Nelson. Freshmen Annie Meyers and Angie Hellbaum led the Cowgirls with 10 kills each.
Head Coach Tom Hilbert was pleased with his team’s ability to close off games, despite the valiant effort of the Cowgirls.
“This match was very interesting,” he said. “Wyoming started out very strong, getting through that was big. I’m very proud of our kids, I think we wore them down.”
The win keeps the third-place Rams in the conference standings, one game behind BYU and two behind Utah.
Hoping to continue their winning ways, the Rams next face off against the Air Force Falcons on Thursday at Moby.
Volleyball staff writer Jeff Dillon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.