Sep 292009
 
Authors: Joel Hafnor

The CSU volleyball team will take a temporary break from conference play tonight as they host the University of Northern Colorado.

These two schools collided last year in Greeley with the Rams winning the match in four sets.

Tonight’s match will be the last one at home for the Rams for the next two weeks, as they take the road against conference opponents Wyoming, San Diego State and Air Force, before coming home to host conference contender BYU on Oct. 15.

So far, the Rams (10-3, 3-0) have yet to be tested in conference play, rolling off their first nine sets against Mountain West opponents UNLV, New Mexico and TCU.

Some early season concern surrounded the program after the team stumbled out of the gates in late August, losing their first six sets of the season. Since then, head coach Tom Hilbert and the Rams have won 10 of their last 11 matches and have dropped just six of their last 37 sets.

“We’ve improved in every area of the game statistically,” Hilbert said. “Our defense and outside hitting have gotten much better.”

The Rams are the only team in the MWC receiving votes in the AVCA Top-25 rankings. Preseason conference favorite Utah has opened the season with a 9-5 record while BYU has slipped uncharacteristically to 6-7. Though the Rams are likely the conference’s preeminent team thus far, Hilbert remains cautious.

“The fact is we have to prepare one match at a time at this point,” Hilbert said. “Every day represents an opportunity to get better.”

Though the Rams are playing determined volleyball as of late, tonight would not be a time to lose focus. The UNC Bears (9-6) have proven their worth against some solid programs this year, with commanding wins over both CU-Boulder and the University of Iowa.

“We’re going to have to play well,” Hilbert said. “They run a fairly complicated system, you have to work hard to follow them.”

The Rams will look to extend their winning streak to seven tonight at Moby Arena. The match tips off at 7 p.m. and can be heard on 90.5 KCSU-FM.

Volleyball beat reporter Joel Hafnor can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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