In a battle of two of the top teams in the Mountain West volleyball standings, CSU left no doubt who was best. The Rams swept the University of New Mexico Thursday night in Moby Arena for its fourth straight home win.
â€œOur team played a little desperate today at times, and I donâ€™t know that they were always comfortable,â€ said coach Tom Hilbert. â€œBut they still made plays when they needed to.â€
CSU led 21-20 late in the first set when New Mexico middle blocker Ashley Rhoades spiked the ball into the net and out of bounds. Initially the referee ruled that it hit off of a CSU player, but after a meeting with several officials, he corrected his call and awarded the point to the Rams.
â€œThat was the right call. That ball did not touch our attackers,â€ Hilbert said. â€œIt was obvious to everybody except (the head official) Kim because heâ€™s too close to it.â€
The Rams then went on a 4-0 run to take the first set 25-20.
Late in the second set, CSU held a 24-23 lead after a New Mexico kill when Hilbert called a timeout. New Mexicoâ€™s Elsa Krieg, the Loboâ€™s lone player from Colorado, drilled it long out of bounds to give the Rams the set.
â€œWe need to finish better and we need to toughen up a little bit at the end of games,â€ said New Mexico Head Coach Jeff Nelson.
Despite winning the first two sets, CSU did not play extremely well offensively or defensively. The Rams had 11 hitting errors through the first two sets ad at times looked out of sorts in their serve-receiving.
â€œI think we knew we had to have confidence to get back out of it and get our point runs,â€ said middle blocker Megan Plourde. â€œI feel like there werenâ€™t any lows for us, we were battling through those.â€
CSU dominated the third set 25-14, holding New Mexico to a .028 hitting percentage.
The Lobos had to play the match without starting defensive specialist Cara Fisher, who injured her neck in the teamâ€™s match against San Diego State University and wasnâ€™t feeling well enough to go.
â€œWe were hoping sheâ€™d wake up good and be able to go, but unfortunately that didnâ€™t happen,â€ Nelson said.
Senior opposite hitter Katelyn Steffan led the Rams with ten kills in the match, and hit a very efficient .350 in doing so.
While Steffan continued her strong play, the Rams got the production out of the middle blockers they have been lacking lately, especially in the loss to the University of Wyoming Saturday, Oct. 8.
Senior middle blocker Ashley Rhoades continued her strong play for the Lobos, posting 13 kills and four blocking assists while hitting above .300.
â€œSheâ€™s an amazing player, sheâ€™s had two bad matches in 18,â€ Nelson said. â€œItâ€™s great for our younger players to see that and strive for that.â€
The path doesnâ€™t get any easier Saturday, as Texas Christian University comes into Moby Arena Saturday at noon fresh off a Thursday night in Laramie, Wyo. against the University of Wyoming.
â€œItâ€™ll give us momentum going into playing TCU,â€ Plourde said. â€œAnd the areas that we struggled in tonight we need to pick that up and improve for Saturday.â€
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.
- What: Texas Christian University vs. CSU
- When: Saturday, noon
- Where: Hughes Stadium
- Listen: 90.5 KCSU-FM
- Tickets: free to students