Blocking (or a lack thereof) has defined the CSU volleyball teamâ€™s season thus far.
The Rams did not block well against Wichita State Friday night and lost their first home match of the season 3-1. CSU dropped to 6-2 on the season while the Shockers improved to 4-3.
â€œWe played with a great deal of fear and not very much aggression,â€ coach Tom Hilbert said. â€œWhen weâ€™re not blocking weâ€™re not very good because itâ€™s the main weapon that we have.â€
CSU only managed 14 blocking assists on the evening with no solo blocks. The Rams lead the MW with 2.92 blocks per set this season.
CSU dropped the first set 28-26 after fending off three separate Wichita State set points before Breion Paige fired a shot long to end it.
The Rams picked up their play in the second set, taking it 25-19 and holding WSU to a .143 hitting percentage and only 11 kills.
Wichita State won the third set 25-20 with great defense and five kills from senior outside hitter Camri Zweisler. She finished with 17 on the evening. The Shockers overcame a six point deficit in the fourth set to take it 25-22.
Senior opposite hitter Katelyn Steffan and junior outside hitter Dana Cranston led the Rams with double-doubles. Steffan paced CSU with 21 kills and 15 digs while Cranson picked up 12 kills and dug 13 balls up.
Wichita State fired 10 aces on the evening, a testament to its excellent serving pressure on the evening. Zweisler had six aces on her own. Hilbert said the Shockers alternated short and deep serves to confuse the Rams and drop them in the perfect spots.
The Shockersâ€™ fast offense gave CSU trouble due to the contrasting style between it and the Ramsâ€™ own high-flying style.
â€œIn practice every day we see a lot of high stuff so playing a team thatâ€™s lower is often hard to block because we need to be low and tight right over the net,â€ Cranston said.
Junior libero Izzy Gaulia coordinates the Rams defense and had to work a lot harder with CSUâ€™s block not playing up to expectations. She finished with 26 digs, but the Ramsâ€™ defense on the whole was a step behind.
â€œThe difference is that I have to watch for two things,â€ she said. â€œBut I donâ€™t blame anything on them because Iâ€™m better than that. I should have been able to make the plays I didnâ€™t make.â€
CSU takes the court next on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the University of Northern Colorado.
â€œWe need to forget about this and play them better than we did today,â€ Gaulia said. â€œWe just got to come out, itâ€™s a whole new different game, and just play like we know we can play.â€
Volleyball beat reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.