Volleyball’s version of the Border War may be in need of a name change. After CSU’s straight set victory over Wyoming Friday evening at Moby Arena, the Rams have now occupied the “War” for 24 consecutive matches, a streak spanning two conferences and 12 years.
The last Cowgirl victory over the Rams came in November 1997, when CSU still belonged to the Western Athletic Conference and Tom Hilbert was in his inaugural season as head coach.
Though the rivalry has become one-sided in nature, there’s no lack of passion between the two.
“I was sick of them feeling like they had a chance,” said outside hitter Danielle Minch after her 17-kill performance Friday. “I feel like we weren’t really playing our top game.”
Top game or not, the Rams (18-4, 10-1 MWC) routed the Cowgirls (25-22, 25-20, 25-20), to retain their position atop the Mountain West.
The win came without the team’s emotional anchor Jacqui Davisson, who was inactive due to a concussion suffered during practice earlier in the week. Davisson’s 197 kills ranks second among all Rams.
The void left by Davisson would be filled convincingly by true freshman outside hitter Dana Cranston, who ended the match with 9 kills to just 1 error.
“I needed to prove myself,” Cranston, who was recruited out of Canada this past offseason, said. “It felt nerve racking at the start, but I kept fighting relentlessly.”
The conference-leading Rams will get some rest before playing host to the Air Force Falcons (8-15, 0-11) this Thursday. The Falcons have yet to win a conference match this season and have lost all but one set in Mountain West play.
The Rams are quietly building another home court winning streak after seeing their 28-game stretch snapped in the first match of this season. Friday’s win marks their 10th straight at Moby Arena.
Despite the Falcons’ struggles this season, along with the Rams decisive home court advantage, sophomore setter Evan Sanders feels the team must continue to prove themselves every time out.
“Every team has improved,” Sanders, who totaled 40 assists Friday, said. “It’s super important for us to prove we are getting better, too.”
The Rams road to another conference championship will likely be decided next week as the team heads to Utah to take on the Utes on Nov. 12, followed by a match in Provo against the BYU Cougars on Nov. 14. Those two matches are the final two road games of the regular season for the team, and a split or sweep would help the Rams greatly in their pursuit of a regular season conference title.
Volleyball beat reporter Joel Hafnor can be reached at email@example.com.