After rolling inside their home arena and winning four in a row, including a Hilton Classic title, CSU volleyball was outplayed in their first away-match of the season as they fell 3-1 to Duke. The Rams expected to have a tough match as the Blue Devils returned six starters this season and are receiving votes in the Top-25.
“We played a team that’s very good,” said head coach Tom Hilbert. “We got a lot of work to do here, and hopefully we can get adjusted to altitude factors and that kind of thing.”
This match marked the first home contest for the Blue Devils, and their home crowd was there to support them as they knuckled up for CSU. Hilbert said being off the floors of Moby was certainly a factor in the loss, but the team needs to move past that as it won’t be their last time away from home.
Duke flew out of the gate winning the first set 25-20, but the Rams weren’t ready to submit.
CSU came out firing in the second. They were able to close out the set 25-21 as the Rams followed the lead of junior Danielle Minch, who finished the match with 14 kills.
“Dani did play well, and she is a very dynamic hitter. She hits high and hard, and she was basically the only weapon we had (Wednesday),” Hilbert said.
The Rams were unable to protect themselves from the onslaught of Duke’s experienced players. CSU kept it close, but the Blue Devils captured the third set 25-21 and after that there was nothing the Rams could do.
The final set of the match was completely dominated by the home squad. Duke scored the first point and was able to go on a six-point run, putting them ahead by 12.
Not for a lack of trying from the Rams, but it just wasn’t enough. The Blue Devils won the critical set 25-13 behind three straight service aces by senior outside hitter Rachael Moss, which seemed to illustrate how Duke was able to win the match — they just served better.
“They served extremely tough, and we didn’t respond very well,” Hilbert said. “(Moss) had a really good jump serve and a lot of the other servers were really getting to us.”
The one positive the Rams can take away from this loss is that they weren’t beating themselves. The Rams committed 33 total errors, while Duke peaked at 39.
CSU will have today off and will use the time to correct some issues before continuing on to the Carolina Classic against Marshall tomorrow.
Volleyball beat reporter Keith Robertson can be reached at email@example.com.