Playing against the 2-9 Wyoming Cowgirls, many thought Friday night’s volleyball match would be a rout. It was not.
It took five sets, but the Rams came away with the 3-2 (22-25, 25-13, 25-18, 21-25, 15-9) win.
“It was way closer than we expected,” said head coach Tom Hilbert. “I’m proud of our team pulling out the fifth game win, but I don’t know how much of that was us or Wyoming hitting a bunch of unforced errors. But to Wyoming’s credit they came out and competed and played better than we expected them to play. We have to learn from this.”
The Rams knew Wyoming could compete, evidenced by its win in three sets over Utah last weekend.
“We ran into a trap because I think our players, as much as we tried to tell them, I don’t think they believed they were going to be this good,” said Hilbert. “Their psyche gets disrupted when the team’s playing better than we think they should.”
Wyoming jumped right out of the gates, winning the first set 25-22. CSU didn’t get their first lead until 21-20. The Rams responded with two straight dominating sets in which they out-hit Wyoming .337 to .032.
Coming alive in the second set were seniors Mekana Barnes, who tallied five kills, and Jaime Strauss, with three kills. Staying calm, Strauss said, is what helped the team play better after dropping the first set.
“I think we play better when we’re relaxed,” said Strauss. “When we’re uptight and nervous about what’s going to happen and there’s all this tension I think we play worse; instead of relaxing and seeing the game as its happening to us.”
Barnes said games like this keep the team prepared for any game down the line.
“It (the win) makes you stay grounded,” said Barnes. “We know that we have to fight no matter who we play. We had a lack of focus, but we have to learn from that. In situations where we need to fight and aren’t playing an A or B game we need to figure it out in some way to win.”
With the win, the Rams continue two streaks: they now have 22 straight home-match wins, and 21 straight matches won against Wyoming. They play Wyoming again in Laramie Oct. 24.
The team will take a couple of days off before re-grouping and getting ready for their match against Air Force on Oct. 2. This win over Wyoming will stay on the players’ minds, said Strauss.
“We didn’t play very good, it’s good that we won in five in a tough match and we can look back on it in the future,” said Strauss. “But its on our shoulders though that we didn’t play very good and that we need to play better.”