The 15th-ranked CSU volleyball team takes the court at Moby Arena tonight for a match against in-state rival Denver. The match represents the Ramsâ€™ final non-conference match of the regular season.
Tonightâ€™s match is also a special event because the Rams will help recognize breast cancer awareness month by sporting pink uniforms as part of their â€œDig Pinkâ€ event.
CSU (17-2, 7-0 MWC) enters the night on an eight-match winning streak and will be looking to work on more consistent, high-level play when it re-enters conference play on Friday.
â€œTheyâ€™re going to be pretty good,â€ said outside hitter Danielle Minch. â€œIt will be good for us to keep us on our toes. Weâ€™re working on the little things preparing for Fridayâ€™s match against Wyoming.â€
The DU Pioneersâ€™ attack will present the Rams with a new wrinkle that they donâ€™t often face.
â€œThey have an attacking setter (Kresson Vreeman),â€ coach Tom Hilbert said. â€œShe is an interesting little twist for us. We had to spend some time just preparing for her.â€
Facing a new style of attack will force the Rams to focus on their defense, something that Hilbert has stressed all season long.
When CSU has struggled, it has often been because its defense has suffered a letdown, which, in turn, causes problems on the offensive side of the ball. The Rams most impressive wins this season have come when they combine solid defense with lethal offense.
In their last match against New Mexico, the Rams were dominant defensively, forcing the Lobos to shoot .101 for the match. That allowed the Rams to run a smooth offense in which the Rams main attackers were able to get a lot of quality attempts, as evidenced by Jacque Davisson shooting .346 for the match while Minch shot .375.
Hilbert has focused on continuing the trend of using defense to accentuate the offense.
â€œWeâ€™re trying to grow in offense off of defense,â€ Hilbert said. â€œWhen we dig a ball, we want to run a good, effective offense off of that. Thatâ€™s one of the areas weâ€™re really hoping to improve on.â€
CSU leads the all-time series 13-1 against DU, with the Pioneerâ€™s lone win coming in 2005.
Senior outside hitter and reigning Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, Minch was named Player of the Week on Monday.
The award is the second weekly award of her career and first of the season. Minch is the second Ram to earn the award this season after Megan Plourde was named Co-Player of the Week on Sept. 27.
Minch returned to action after missing the previous two matches due to an ankle injury and recorded a season-high 20 kills, including her 1,000th career kill in a win over TCU on Oct. 14. She followed that performance with a 10-kill match in a win over New Mexico Saturday night.
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at email@example.com.