Coming off a split weekend, Colorado State volleyball is set to face Northern Colorado in Moby Arena Tuesday night for an inner-state showdown.
The Rams have not dropped a match to UNC in over a decade. Despite the overwhelming success, the team will look to focus on the task at hand and avoid taking the Bears lightly.
“We know they are a good team,” sophomore Katie Oleksak said. “We played them in spring, and we have seen what they are capable of. Every game we get into, we do not want to overlook a team and definitely with UNC we know they are strong.”
The Rams will be facing an opponent that is winless on the year (0-2); however, they feature an older roster that is laden with junior and senior talent.
“(UNC) will not make a lot of mistakes,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “If you are playing an older team, you cannot give them points – unforced errors, missed serves and service aces.”
As well as having the age advantage, the Bears run a very complex scheme that the Rams had only two days to prepare for. Being a younger team, practice leading up to the game was all about intensity and working hard to prepare.
“Northern Colorado is a hard team to prepare for,” Hilbert said. “They do very complex things offensively and we (only) have a short period of time to get ready. We have to take (preparation) very serious.”
After the Rams lost Friday night to Duke, they won 3-1 against Central Florida and played with anger coming off a tough loss. The team rebounded nicely and will look to continue their momentum in preparation for their tournament in Tallahassee.
“We really want to just go out and play more consistently than we did this weekend,” Oleksak said. “Keep focused in the game and we really want to win, it is important to us.”
The Rams have dealt with injuries to seniors Alexandra Poletto and Sanja Cizmic that have kept them from reaching their ceiling as a contender. Cizmic was able to gut it out against Central Florida after sitting for most of the match against Duke, while Poletto has not seen the court yet this season. While Cizmic is feeling better, the Rams will still be without Poletto as she recovers from shoulder surgery.
Breana Runnels came on strong in the Rams’ match against Central Florida and will start the game against the Bears Tuesday night on the front left side.
“She will get more attempts,” Hilbert said. “Jasmine is not feeling very well right now and I would like to be able to rest her.”
Following their match against the Bears, the Rams will travel to Tallahassee for their tournament in which they will face No. 15 Florida State. The Rams are ready for the challenge at hand.
“We have to take it one day at a time,” Kirstie Hillyer said. “I think we’re doing pretty good with that. I have not even thought about Florida (State) yet, and I think most of us are like that.”
The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Tuesday night, with the Rams departing for the tournament on Wednesday Aug. 30.
Collegian sports reporter Luke Zahlmann can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.