Headed into its fourth game in Mountain West play, the Colorado State volleyball team didn’t anticipate that Utah State would deliver the way it did in Moby Arena.
Though victorious, the Rams surrendered their first set loss at home. The match on Thursday was a battle of errors, rally and the red zone for the Rams.
No. 13 CSU did not disappoint in the red zone, as it pushed past 29 errors to 14-0, battling Utah State back and forth in four sets before claiming the match victory (25-17, 20-25, 25-23, 25-18).
“People watching this may think ‘Oh, Colorado State is playing good,’ we really weren’t,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “Utah State gave us a ton of points of either blocks, hits or serving errors. We hit very poorly in that first set and still won fairly easily, and that’s like the curse because now your team doesn’t really have a feel for what it is going to take to compete.”
CSU opened the match against Utah State with two service errors, one of which was on the attack. A shaky start from a usually consistent serving Rams, it was the first look at true Mountain West play.
The first set was a slow start for CSU. Setter Deedra Foss led the offense, hitting .667 on two kills. Main hitters Adrianna Culbert, Kelsey Snider and Marlee Reynolds posted negative attack percentages. The team could not hit over .075.
“It’s a little frustrating because when you go up to hit and you think it is a good swing and they dig it,” Culbert said. “They play great defensively though, and so I think we just need to stay in the match and be ready for them to give the ball back.”
In a battle for the set two victory, CSU did not come out on top for the first time this season in Moby Arena.
The Rams allowed the Aggies to take advantage of missed attempts in set two and the third set came within points of a similar fate.
“I think the right thing to do is to give credit to Utah State,” Hilbert said. “They are a very good opponent. From a standpoint on blocking and defense, it was one of the better teams we played this year, if not the best.”
Utah State’s strong defense meant that CSU didn’t earn points off kills. Errors came in pairs and the Rams were forced to fight back from lost points.
The turning point for the Rams came from freshman Acacia Andrews. Pulled from the bench in set three, Andrews was a player for which Utah State was not prepared.
“Its great being able to be that player to come off the bench and be the right player at the right time,” Andrews said. “I love being on the court.”
Andrews held up the offense with nine kills and hit .692. She hit above the Aggie defense and Utah State could not overcome CSU’s drive.
“Acacia made a huge difference for us,” Hilbert said. “That is just a little glimpse into the future of this kid. She’s gonna get the whole game at one point, and then she is going to be feared. They will have to game plan for her.”
Thursday’s result marked the fifth-best start in program history for CSU. The Rams remain one of only three undefeated teams in the nation.
Volleyball Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.