After jumping back into the top-25 rankings this week for the first time in two weeks, CSU (15-4, 8-1 MW) will look to defend its first place standing in the Mountain West tonight against second place San Diego State University (13-6, 6-2 MW).
The match will mark the second time the Rams have met SDSU this season, after beating them in four sets in San Diego, Calif. on Oct. 2.
â€œI think we have to expect them to be better than they were,â€ CSU coach Tom Hilbert said.
Junior Andrea Hannasch leads SDSU in kills, kills per set and points per set.
â€œ(SDSU has) been playing much better lately,â€ Hilbert said. â€œOffensively they have a lot of weapons, and Hannasch is just one of them.â€
The Ramsâ€™ defense will be focused on slowing Hannasch this time around, as she didnâ€™t play much of a role the last time the two teams met.
â€œWe served (SDSU) really tough last time we played,â€ Hilbert said. â€œThey were out of system a lot, and so (Hannasch) didnâ€™t come into play, and I think weâ€™ve got to expect that theyâ€™re going to be a little bit better.â€
CSU will be without its backup setter in the match. Redshirt freshman Katie Rutherford, at her request, was given a full release to transfer.
Hilbert said that if starter Deedra Foss for some reason had to come out of the match at setter, opposite hitter Dana Cranston would fill the position.
â€œItâ€™s more pressure not to get injured or anything,â€ Foss said. â€œAnd thereâ€™s no one here to really push me anymore, so itâ€™s more like I have to focus on getting better on my own.â€
While their last few victories have come in comfortable fashion, the Rams have focused on putting themselves in uncomfortable situations in practice in preparation for this match.
â€œWeâ€™ve been practicing a lot of end-game situations, which has helped us a lot,â€ Foss said. â€œAnd weâ€™ve been working on the things that weâ€™ve been needing to work on to make us better and thatâ€™s been helping us a lot in the games.â€
CSU is wary of having a letdown game, even after they defeated SDSU on the road.
â€œWe know that we always have the target on our back,â€ Cranston said. â€œSo I think weâ€™ve put a good emphasis on this match and coming out really focused.â€
Volleyball Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.