Going into the second Border War battle of the season, it came without saying that Wyoming wanted to revenge.
With stakes of being the rival victor, both the Rams and Cowgirls stepped onto the court with every intention of having the last word. In Tuesday night’s case, CSU had the last kill on the night, earning it a 2-0 record against Wyoming and an increased season record of 22-0, 13-0 Mountain West.
The Rams dropped set one to the Cowgirls despite an evenly matched offensive attack from both teams. With no distinguishable reasoning to a dramatic click on the start of the second set, the Rams ran with momentum to a four set victory over the Cowgirls (23-25, 25-13, 25-19, 25-19).
“I thought Wyoming played extremely well in the first set,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “I thought we passed some balls that were going out of bounds, I thought we dug some balls that were going out of bounds that could have given us points. We had some ball handling botches that I didn’t like.”
The UniWyo Sports Complex housed a loud and energetic crowd that attempted to crack the focus of both opposing coaches and players. Packed with 964 fans, the Cowgirls took the strength of the crowd to their advantage as they came out to lead the Rams 4-0 early in the first frame.
Set one, which looked even in numbers as CSU hit .378 and Wyoming .395, put control in the hands of the Cowgirls. With every point battled from kill to dig, the Rams continuously came within one point of tying but could not overcome the resilience of Wyoming.
CSU stepped onto the court in set two looking to crush Wyoming’s momentum. Hilbert made one adjustment by rotating the starting line one back, allowing Deedra Foss to begin the serve for the Rams. Because of this minor change, CSU found itself able to control multiple rallies due to the Cowgirls’ inability to cause a side out.
It was a click. Set two came easily to the Rams with 13 kills and an impressive .542 hitting percentage. This positive change for CSU carried throughout the third set as the Rams took the lead 14-15 only to lead to a six-point run and another set victory.
Wyoming came out to win the first point of the set, though CSU retaliated by winning six points straight. The Rams quickly distanced themselves in the fourth set.
“In set four we had a nine-point run, they come back because their defending and were impatient and hitting balls out of bounds,” Hilbert said. “We had eight errors in that game. I bet you could look across the whole season and I’m not even certain they are there.”
The most consistent asset CSU had on the night came from the arm of Michelle Lawrence. With a career high of 19 kills, the fourth player on the season to earn higher than 18, she puzzled the Cowgirl defense with the line and cross hit.
“We deffinitly were clicking, I mean Deedra (Foss) distributes the sets every game perfectly,” Lawrence said. “I think that they took my shot which is usually the line shot and they figured it out fast. Then I started hitting angled and then they could not take that away.”
Volleyball Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org