It has come to a point in the season to disregard concerns about when the first loss will happen. A stronger focus should be considered toward what opposing team will be able to upset CSU’s 17-0 season.
With a mature mindset headed into a two game home stand, the Rams look to remain undefeated after the first half of MW play concludes. On the schedule for this week are Fresno State and San Jose State. Fresno State will be the toughest competition remaining on the plate for the Rams. The Bulldogs currently rank second, tied with UNLV at 6-2 in the MW.
“The teams that have frustrated us the most are the ones that are great on defense,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “I think that’s something Fresno State has the capacity to do. Will it happen on Thursday, I don’t know.”
For Fresno State to be a competitor against CSU, the Bulldogs will need to find the holes and push the defense out of position and in a situation to make uncomfortable passes.
The Rams have relied on their defense all season, thus opponents need to close fast and put pressure on.
While Fresno State has defeated both competitive teams in New Mexico and UNLV, the Bulldogs will need to bring their ‘A’ game . The Rams have been solid in Moby Arena this season, only losing one set.
“It’s going to be really good competition. They have some of the best hitters in the conference on their team,” Adrianna Culbert said. “I think it’s going to be probably one of the better matches in conference.”
With a versatile team similar to the CSU lineup, the Bulldogs will step onto the court with leading attackers on the middle and outside.
“The one I am most concerned about is Korrin Wild,” Hilbert said. “She is an outside hitter, she hits very hard with a great shot range. That is the kind of player that has driven us crazy.”
Wild is averaging 3.76 kills per set on 248 kills this season. She is the leading attacker for the Bulldogs as her hits are something the Rams have yet to see this season.
According to Culbert, the team has talked about the wide variety of serves this Fresno State team possesses, particularly that its outside hitter is really powerful; she works to get around the blocks and find the holes.
Besides Wild is Maci Murdock. She is hitting .398 on the season with a 160 kill rate as well as adding just 35 errors on the season.
Murdock averages 2.03 kills per set and .91 blocks per set. Against just two of the strong attackers for the Bulldogs, the Rams will need the arms of Samantha Peters, Kelsey Snider, Michelle Lawrence, Marlee Reynolds and Deedra Foss to block balls back onto Fresno State.
“We’ve got to block and defend,” Hilbert said. “We have to make defensive plays when we have the opportunity to do it. There are some players we are not going to be able to dig but when do have a dig-able ball, we have to dig it under control.”
In order for CSU to fend off Fresno State, the Rams will need to continue its season long consistent approach and take advantage of those pivotal moments. Based on statistics and points put up by both teams, Thursday’s game will be a battle.
“Anyone on any given night can have a great night,” Culbert said. “We have that extra support seeing that our offense never just has one go-to player. It is hard to defend.”
Volleyball Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org