Sep 282011
 
Authors: Andrew Schaller

CSU will try to end its recent struggles on the road Thursday when they travel to Nevada to face the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Their last two road trips have ended with losses to Oklahoma and Denver, but the Rams are determined to avoid a similar outcome in this trip.

“I think fatigue was setting in with some players (during the losses)” said senior opposite hitter Katelyn Steffan. “And we were kind of losing focus, not preparing as well as we needed to, and taking teams for granted.”

Since the loss to DU, the Rams have not taken anyone for granted, sweeping Air Force and Boise State at home to open their conference schedule.

“We’re kind of getting back to the way we were playing against Nebraska,” Steffan said. “Just really competing in practice.”

The match on Thursday will feature UNLV setter Stephanie Thelen who was named the Mountain West’s Player of the Week for matches from Sept. 19-16. During that time, Thelen averaged 10.17 assists and 1.17 kills per set while hitting .368.

Rams coach Tom Hilbert realizes the challenges Thelen poses, but feels that his team has a plan for success.

“You neutralize her by serving tough; so, they can’t set up their offense,” he said on Wednesday. “She’s a good player, and she does some junky things that get under your skin. But if we are serving and blocking, then we neutralize her.”

UNLV enters the match after sweeping San Diego State University at home last Friday, adding parody to the MW and showing the need for teams within the conference to win games on the road.

“Tom (Hilbert) has been telling us all week the team that’s going to win the Mountain West is going to be the team that can win on the road,” Steffan said. “I think this will be a good preparer for when we have to go on the road to New Mexico and TCU.”

The Rams will enter the game on Thursday with a question mark at the setter position, as Deedra Foss sat out of practice on Wednesday with a quad strain and is questionable to play in the match.

If Foss is unable to play, freshman Katie Rutherford will likely step in to make the start at setter.

Junior middle blocker Megan Plourde emphasized the depth of the Ram’s bench saying, “(Katie) came in today and everything seemed like it was going good; so, I’m not too worried.”

Volleyball Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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