CSU volleyball hosts Nevada in Mountain West home opener

Eighth place in the Mountain West is not somewhere the CSU volleyball team is accustomed to being.

The Rams will have a chance to move into more familiar territory Thursday night against MW newcomer Nevada.

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The Wolfpack started the 2012 season 1-10, but picked up three straight wins against Cal Poly, Texas Tech and San Diego State in the last 10 days.

Sophomore middle blocker Tessa Lea’ea dominated Nevada’s last two matches, averaging 3.60 kills and 1.50 blocks per set en route to being named the Mountain West Player of the Week.“They can be a mistake-prone team. I think that’s what hurt them early is they had a lot of giveaway points,” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said. “But, as most teams do, those things are going away as the season progresses. You still have to play them, and I think they’re going to be good.”

“If you allow her to get the ball it’s going to be a long night,” Hilbert said. “We have to be aware of her, block her well, serve aggressively and keep the ball away from her.”

Nevada’s win over San Diego State caught more of CSU’s attention than an individual player award, however.

“We know they’re good, they beat San Diego State and San Diego State’s a great team,” senior outside hitter Dana Cranston said. “That’s our gauge, we know who San Diego State is.”

But the Rams don’t really know who Nevada is yet, playing the Wolfpack for the first time in a conference game.

“It’s our first time playing them and we don’t know them that well, but they also don’t know us that well,” Cranston said. “It’s like a preseason game in the mental aspect of playing them for the first time.”

The lack of familiarity between the teams may make the match feel like more of a non-conference match, but the newness is exciting for the players.

“We have to expect everything, they’re going to do things we haven’t seen,” Paige said. “They’re a pretty complicated team. They have two really good middles and our goal is to shut them down.”

CSU had a tough time stopping anything from New Mexico in the last three sets of the team’s loss in Albuquerque, N.M., but the team will not be looking past any other teams for the rest of its schedule.

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“I don’t think there’s going to be any doubt of that for the rest of the year, because that’s what happened at New Mexico,” Cranston said. “Everybody knows without saying, no matter who’s on the other side of the net we cannot do that again. We’re not underestimating them at all.”