â€œHow can we grow from this?â€
Thatâ€™s the question the Colorado State volleyball team asked itself Friday night following a five-set loss to Long Beach State University at Moby Arena.
CSU started strong, winning the first set 25-21, and later had a chance to take total control of the match by winning the second set. At one point in the second set, CSU had a 24-21 lead and ultimately had five different set point opportunities, but couldnâ€™t bury the 49ers, who won the set, along with momentum, 33-31.
â€œSet two was critical,â€ said coach Tom Hilbert. â€œYou donâ€™t want to act like it is at the time, but if we win that, itâ€™s a three set win for us.â€
CSU rebounded to win set three, but in the fourth set the Rams started to unravel.
The 49ers were able to take control in the final two sets, helped along by seven attacking errors by CSU in the fourth set. The Rams then set their sights on a late rally to gain momentum going into the fifth set, as they did in Thursday nightâ€™s five-set win against Virginia Commonwealth University.
That plan, however, was derailed by the Ramsâ€™ poor play.
â€œWe had a couple of errors at the end of the fourth game that didnâ€™t allow us to carry much momentum to the fifth,â€ said sophomore Megan Plourde.
LBSU was then able to win the fifth set, aided by two of their last three points coming from attacking errors by CSU.
It wasnâ€™t the amount of errors that ultimately led to the Ramsâ€™ defeat â€“â€“ they had only one more attacking error than LBSU â€“â€“ but rather the poor timing of those errors. Errors at all the wrong times continually knocked CSU out of rhythm and the inconsistent play kept them from winning the match.
CSU knows that it has to improve their level of play in order to meet the high expectations that have been placed upon them.
â€œPlaying with consistency and getting your level up,â€ Hilbert said when asked what most needs to be improved upon. â€œNo matter who youâ€™re playing, play at your absolute best.â€
The two tough matches against VCU and LBSU this week have provided valuable knowledge for the Rams to learn from heading into conference play. The Rams struggled for portions of both matches, looking far from dominant at times.
Senior Jacque Davisson feels that the lack of dominance has been due to Rams mistakes, rather than being outmatched by opponents. Davisson placed the blame on the LBSU loss on what she termed â€œuncharacteristic mistakes,â€ the kind of mistakes that can be corrected in order to improve as a team.
â€œYouâ€™ve got to lose to learn how to win,â€ Davisson said. â€œYou have to go back and ask â€˜what did we do and how do you fix it?â€™ And be better the next weekend. Thatâ€™s all we can do.â€
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at email@example.com.