The CSU volleyball team spent all week focusing on stopping New Mexico’s Jeanne Fairchild, knowing if they could slow her down they could also slow down the entire Lobos team.
The Lobos couldn’t focus on slowing down just one CSU player.
With a powerful and balanced attack, the Rams recovered after dropping the first set of the match, storming back to beat New Mexico 3-1 (21-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-19) Thursday night, passing the 20-win total for the 14th straight year.
“I thought that we got very consistent hitting at every position but one, and that is all because of Ashley (Fornstrom),” said CSU head coach Tom Hilbert, whose squad hit .286 in the match.
“She did a really good job of executing the game-plan, doing exactly what we wanted to do in the match.”
Fornstrom, the Rams senior setter, picked up 48 assists for the Rams (20-2, 10-1 MWC), most going to senior middle blocker Mekana Barnes, who was dominant for the Rams, especially early in the match, finishing with 19 kills and four blocks.
Her fellow middle blocker, junior Tessa Nelson, was equally dominant, finishing with 12 kills and seven blocks, while Jacque Davisson gave the Rams three players with double-figure kills, finishing with 10.
“I thought that Tessa really did a great job tonight, and Jacque, after struggling a little early, pumped herself up,” said Hilbert. “Mekana was also, as usual, great.”
Equally as important for the Rams was that they slowed down Fairchild this time around, after she torched them for 27 kills in the first match this season.
Despite her 15 kills, she only hit .135 on the match and had 10 errors.
As a team New Mexico hit just .076 in the match.
Hilbert said his team did a very good job of keeping the ball away from her, and when she got the ball, he said they did a great job of challenging her. Additionally, the Rams put together several rallies while Fairchild was on the back row or the bench.
CSU struggled to keep their serves in all night, finishing with 15 service errors, but besides the first set they were able to overcome the mistakes.
Hilbert said it was the key area that they would have to improve on.
Next up for the Rams is Texas Christian on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The team will be out for revenge after losing to the Frogs (17-8, 7-6 MWC) in Fort Worth last season.
Volleyball beat writer Matthew Pucak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.