Like their football counterparts Saturday, the CSU and CU-Boulder volleyball teams are prepared to butt heads in the Rocky Mountain Showdown at 7 p.m. tonight in Moby Arena.
CSU, ranked No. 15 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 poll, started the season 2-0 after sweeping its weekend matches against Furman and Duke, losing only one set in the process.
â€œIt feels good,â€ said junior setter Evan Sanders. â€œItâ€™s what we expected of ourselves.â€
Despite the impressive start, the Rams are taking their victories with a grain of salt.
â€œWe didnâ€™t really play as well as we can during the Furman game,â€ said senior outside hitter Danielle Minch, â€œbut itâ€™s a win, and being 2-0 is the big deal, and we can use what we did to grow from it.â€
CU comes into the match 1-1 after also playing Duke and Furman over the weekend. The Buffs swept the Paladins and took the Blue Devils to five sets in a loss.
â€œNothing against CU, but that is not a start I expected them to have just because of the struggles theyâ€™ve had in the past few seasons,â€ Sanders said.
The Buffaloes registered 90 kills in the teamâ€™s first two matches and only 51 errors.
Both Minch and Sanders are Colorado natives and were recruited by CU as well.
â€œThis is a great volleyball program,â€ Minch said. â€œI just like being a part of this community and everything about Fort Collins was better than Boulder.â€
Because of their Colorado roots, both players are well aware of the importance of the rivalry with CU.
â€œEvery CSU or CU student athlete knows about the rivalry,â€ Sanders said. â€œItâ€™s a big deal, but I would not necessarily say Iâ€™m preparing differently for this match than any other.â€
The CU team that takes the court tonight will barely resemble the team that went 7-22 last season. During the offseason the Buffsâ€™ roster was completely restructured and features only two players who played last season.
â€œNobody knew what they were gonna be like because nobody knew the kind of players they were getting and how theyâ€™re going to gel,â€ said CSU coach Tom Hilbert. â€œIt looks like theyâ€™re going to be pretty good. From what weâ€™ve seen on film, theyâ€™re a nice team. Theyâ€™ve got a lot of weapons, and I expect (tonightâ€™s) match to be a barn-burner.â€
Volleyball beat reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.