Saturday night the Colorado State volleyball team finished off a victorious homecoming weekend with a three-set sweep of Mountain West Conference rival New Mexico.
The 25-16, 25-21, 25-18 win was the Ramsâ€™ most impressive all-around display of the season. CSU (17-2, 7-0 MWC) executed in every facet of the game to prevent the Lobos from ever having a chance.
The previous four matches at Moby all went five sets, with the Rams winning three. In each of those matches, the Rams were victimized with bad sets where they shot poorly and their defense allowed the opponent to hit at a high percentage.
Saturday night, the Rams defense was able to suffocate the Lobos all night long.
â€œThis, without a doubt, was our most complete defensive match of the year,â€ coach Tom Hilbert said. â€œWe were executing the blocking assignments that we wanted to. We werenâ€™t stuffing a lot of balls â€“â€“ we were under our average on blocks Ââ€“â€“ but defensively we were way better, and it allowed us to convert points and get a lot of attempts and a lot of kills.â€
UNM shot .101 for the match and committed 24 attacking errors as it struggled to deal with the CSU defense.
The Rams complemented the tough defense with what Hilbert called their most mature offensive performance of the year.
Seniors Jacque Davisson and Danielle Minch put in impressive displays, finishing with 10 and 11 kills, respectively, while shooting well above their season averages in shooting percentage.
Hilbert has been stressing more consistent play from his team and feels that Saturdayâ€™s game is a good example of what CSU can do offensively.
â€œWhen you play smart and you hit smart, you donâ€™t get unforced errors and, as a result, some of the oneâ€™s you just roll in you get good results,â€ Hilbert said.
Consistently hitting smart has been something that the Rams havenâ€™t been able to do at all times this season. In each of the five-set matches at home, CSU has been plagued by sets where it commits a lot of attacking errors and shoots a low percentage.
The improvement seen in Saturdayâ€™s match is viewed as a stepping stone for the team as it moves through the season.
â€œWe have some tough road matches at the end of the year,â€ Hilbert said. â€œWe have areas we have to get better at and we know it. If we can hit with the maturity we did and keep our power and athleticism and play great defense, we will do well.â€
The match was seen by a homecoming crowd of 3,200 who were treated to an appearance by 35 former CSU volleyball players in the intermission between sets two and three.
â€œIt was an exciting weekend with everyone here,â€ Minch said. â€œItâ€™s good to see all the people that have played here and have been through all this before that weâ€™re going through right now, and just having the crowd there was awesome.â€
Volleyball beat reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.