The Moby Magic continues for the CSU Rams.
The Rams dropped the Texas Christian Horned Frogs 3-1 (25-20, 25-17, 16-25, 25-11) Thursday night, extending their win streak at Moby Arena to 24 games and their overall win streak to 12 games.
CSU improved to 15-1 on the season and 5-0 in conference play with the win. The Rams pulled away with a dominant effort in three of the four sets.
“Tonight’s match was a very good point scoring match for our team. I thought that we were very prepared and that we did a nice job blocking, and then the third set rolled around and we got possessed by aliens,” joked CSU head coach Tom Hilbert.
The Rams dominated the first set, trailing only 1-0, before pulling away. Katelyn Steffan was the star for the Rams, with five kills in five attempts, a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage for the set.
“Everything just felt good. My steps were on and Ashley’s sets were perfect,” said Stefan, who finished the match with 11 kills.
The second set saw Mekana Barnes take over, as the CSU middle blocker had four kills and four blocks, crucial to the Rams coming back from an 8-5 deficit to win going away. The CSU block was key to the win, as TCU didn’t seem to be able to attack with much authority, while the Rams seemed free to do what they wanted.
Set three saw the Rams fall back to Earth, as TCU switched up their attack.
“They had a pretty interesting little plan going into game three. We were blocking them, and so they decided to chip balls into what we call the ‘donut,’ the middle part of the court, and they scored a couple of times. We got a little disrupted and probably panicked a little bit, I know I did, and they end up getting the win,” said Hilbert.
The attack was not only successful at beating the Rams defense, but it also got inside their head a little.
“It’s frustrating, especially when you know that you are putting up a good block. You just have to be aware on defense, and after the first couple we figured it out,” said Barnes.
The fourth set saw the Rams blow the Frogs out of Moby Arena, and the key was the play of outside hitters Jamie Strauss and Danielle Minch.
“To be honest, we didn’t have very good outside hitting in the first three games, and then in game four Jamie (Strauss) was much better, and Minch came in and made a difference,” said Hilbert. “It was important, and it came at the right time, at the end in the fourth game.”
Minch’s contribution came off the bench, as she helped lead the Rams down the stretch after replacing Jacque Davisson in the lineup.
“It felt good to finally get into a rhythm,” said Minch, who, in the final set, picked up three kills, an ace and closed the match out with a block.
The Rams enjoyed seeing Minch step up, as they know she gives them another important weapon off the bench.
“She hits really high, and it is hard to block or defend. Not only does she hit high, but she hits really hard, so it is definitely something that the other team hasn’t seen,” said Strauss, who led the team with in kills with 15.
CSU continues their homecoming week with a nationally televised game against New Mexico Sunday (CBS College Sports at 1 p.m.) in Moby Arena.
“I think that New Mexico is one team in the league that can surprise a lot of people, and we are going to have to be good on Sunday. We will need a big crowd,” said Hilbert.
Volleyball beat writer Matthew Pucak can be reached at email@example.com.