In less than 24-hours, 66 miles will be the difference between a winning and a losing team.
The Colorado State volleyball team (8-0) welcomes the University of Wyoming (7-3) to Moby Arena Wednesday night for their first conference and Border War match of the season.
“Since this is the first Mountain West match of the season for both teams, it will set the tone for each team in conference play,” said Judy Willson, Associate Director of Communications for the Mountain West. “Not to sound cliché, but it is always a matchup that you throw the records out the window when the two teams get on the court.”
The Rams are pushing for their ninth win of the season and 60th all-time victory against the Cowgirls. CSU is 16-0 against Wyoming in Moby and are riding on a four-game winning streak against its rival from the north.
Since 1979, the Rams and Cowgirls have met twice annually to determine Border War victor, fueling 39 years of rivalry. This matchup not only serves as a chance to improve statistically, it awards Rams or Cowgirls fans the right to brag.
“It’s exciting because we know it’s going to be a real competitive matchup the whole game,” CSU outside hitter Marlee Reynolds said. “When ever they play us, Wyoming always brings their A-game.”
In the Border War series, CSU leads Wyoming 59-19 and 182-88 in set series. On Nov. 2, 2012, the Rams concluded their second matchup against the Cowgirls with a 3-0 sweep in Laramie.
“I have heard that it is pretty exciting,” Wyoming head coach Chad Callihan said. “I think we are trying to not put too much emphasis on the Border War to be honest. I think one of the things that has happened in the past is they have gotten up for big matches and let down for others. We are just going to prepare for a team, no matter who is on the other side of the net.”
The rivalry brings fans all across the states of Colorado and Wyoming together in one gym. For the first time in Moby Arena, Callihan will face “Moby Magic” and the offensive versatility of CSU.
Despite a low ranking for CSU and Wyoming in the pre season poll, both teams have come out and earned national rankings in the fourth week of play.
On Monday, CSU broke into the top-25 AVCA Coach’s Poll to No.22 in the nation.
Wyoming is the No.1 blocking team in the country with a 3.22 blocks per set, presenting a major threat for CSU. Since the start of the season, the Rams have pushed to improve their blocking from the basic fundamentals.
“We’ve been working on our shots that we think are going to be open,” Reynolds said. “We just need to be smart whenever we are hitting the ball, we need to hit it high.”
Junior setter Deedra Foss registered her career-high of 66 assists against Wyoming in 2011. Foss has the experience on the court to pick and choose players who are able to kill the ball, which has served as an advantage for CSU against all opponents thus far this season.
“There is a particular player on their team (Erin Kirby) who we can’t just go right at her, that would be silly,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “She is too good of a blocker. We have to try and move her around a little bit and take advantage of the opportunities we have to hit over their blockers.”
Kirby is currently leading the nation in blocking, averaging 1.97 blocks and 2.67 kills per set.
The difference between MW matches and the Border War is the risk. If CSU wants to remain undefeated, the Rams need to come out strong and base their offense around the fundamentals, one point at a time.
“Moby gives us an advantage every time we play here,” Hilbert said. “We get great energy from this place. Not only because we are comfortable here, but our fans are great. There is a lot of emotion in this game.”
Volleyball Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at email@example.com.