No. 7 Colorado State was not able to battle its way out of this one.
Two nights after going to five sets with San Diego State, the Rams were upset on the road by UNLV 25-20, 18-25, 23-25, 17-25. It was only the Rams’ second loss of the season, snapping an 18-match winning streak and giving them their first road loss since Oct.25, 2012.
“We didn’t play our normal game today and we didn’t look as physically into it as we have in the past,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “I dont know why we didn’t look as physical, if I did I would be the best coach in the world.”
CSU came out strong in set one but UNLV came back and responded.. The Rebels are second in the NCAA in blocking, making that rank stand up with 15 blocks on the night.
“Our players drew long rallies, we weren’t getting good swings and you got to give them credit because they played a nice match,” Hilbert said.
The Rams’ offense was led by freshman Jasmine Hanna with 23 kills hitting .340, despite seven errors. Marlee Reynolds and Kelsey Snider each had 10 kills on the night, respectively.
With Saturdays loss, CSU drops to 23-2 overall and 11-1 in the Mountain West, still holding a two and a half match lead in conference standings.
“It means it is a loss, we can win the rest of our conference games and win the conference,” Hilbert said of the implications the loss might have. “Winning the Mountain West is the most important thing that we need to do. I don’t know what it is going to do RPI-wise but it puts a little blemish on our teams sheet.”
While Saturday’s loss is expected to drop CSU in the rankings as well as the RPI, which lowers the chances of the Rams hosting the first round of the NCAA tournament, Hilbert is still focused on his original statement from the first week of the season, win the Mountain West first and then look to the NCAA tournament.
CSU has six games remaining with New Mexico and Wyoming being two of the biggest threats to their chase for a sixth-consecutive Mountain West title.
When asked if this loss would be a a turning point for the Rams heading into the final stretch of the 2014 regular season, Hilbert said, “I hope so, I hope that is what happens.”
Collegian Sports Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @haleighhamblin.