The Mountain West Conference is not the first conference anyone thinks of when it comes to top ranked teams, except for Colorado State volleyball. For the last five consecutive seasons, the Rams have won the MW title, advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Ranked No. 18 in the national preseason rankings, CSU has climbed its way to No.6 with a 13-game winning streak.
The target on the back of CSU volleyball has gotten bigger and bigger as each season comes to a close. With anticipation of a sixth-consecutive MW title for the Rams, CSU will need to survive the remaining 12 games of the 2014 season while it maintains the only undefeated record in league play after three weeks.
While several teams this year continue to struggle rounding out the bottom of the conference, it is too early to count out New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming, San Diego State and Utah State from a possible upset.
For example Air Force, a team many would have pushed to the back burner this season is a lot better than had expected. The Falcons started conference play with the best start in league play since moving up to Division I in 1996. Air Force split matches with Boise State (3-1) and Utah State (2-3) last week after beginning MW play at 2-0.
Wyoming is always a team to consider especially seeing that its gym is one of the loudest and toughest places to play in the conference. While players go back to serve, fans are literally able to get within arms distance to distract players, keeping the Cowgirls in the game. Erin Kirby continues the 2014 season as one of the top hitters in the conference, hitting .409, making Wyoming a team to look out for in the next appearance at Moby Arena.
SDSU lost five players at the end of the 2013 season and is an extremely young team. The Aztecs are still a tough team to play on the road and still have that edge seeing that they were the only team to defeat the Rams during the regular season.
The team that poses the greatest threat of knocking off the Rams is New Mexico. The Lobos return AVCA-All American and 2014 preseason MW player of the year Chantal Riddle. Riddle lead the team last season in kills with 468 and has lead the conference this season with 231. While UNM relies on Riddle for a majority of its offensive attack, the Lobos have a versatile offense similar to CSU and is able to use middle blockers and outside hitters in the instance that Riddle is contained.
Current 2014 Mountain West Standings:
(6) Colorado State (18-1, 6-0)
New Mexico (11-7, 4-2)
Utah State (8-8, 4-3)
UNLV (15-5, 3-2)
SDSU (7-8, 3-2)
Wyoming (14-5, 3-3)
Boise State (10-8, 3-3)
Air Force (9-11, 3-3)
Nevada (4-11, 1-4)
Fresno State (6-14, 1-5)
San Jose State (3-15, 0-5)
Collegian Sports Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @haleighhamblin.