No. 10 CSU heads into Fresno with chip on its shoulder

Haleigh Hamblin

The final countdown to No.10 Colorado State’s sixth-consecutive Mountain West Title has begun, as well as the fight from those teams within reach. With six games remaining in the regular season, the Rams headed back to practice this week to regroup and freshen up after last weeks loss to UNLV.

“I am trying to work on some specific things that we need to be better at but not spend a ton of time in here (Moby),” Hilbert said. “It is not about the time we spend, we need to freshen up a little bit, I think the road trip took its toll on us physically and I want them to feel fresh when we go into Fresno.”

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In the last meeting between the Rams and Bulldogs, CSU never trailed jumping out to leads of at least 3-0 in each set. The Bulldogs were limited to negative hitting in the first two sets and .000 for the overall match. CSU hit a .429 overall tallying 38 kills and just five errors.

One big difference this go around will be middle blocker Maci Murdock.

“First of all Fresno State has not had Maci Murdock in four matches and she comes back for our match,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “That will make them better, ‘do they have a bad record?’ Yes, but everyone plays well against us, they will bring their ‘A’ game.”

With three weeks of play left for the Rams, CSU holds a two and a half game lead in the conference with second-place New Mexico fighting to overcome that number.

“We need to go into these matches with the idea that we are being stalked,” Hilbert said. “Looking around, looking over our shoulder, because if we are just expecting that we are going to be given a win, we are going to lose. The teams in this league are too good.”

The Rams dropped in this week’s AVCA Top-25 poll from No. 7  to No. 10 but rose to No.13 in the Ratings Percentage Index after a tough road series against San Diego State and UNLV. CSU will pack its bags for the second week in a row heading into Fresno State on Thursday.

“We need to get that approach back,” senior Kelsey Snider said. “Last year we had that during the entire season that we were the underdogs an the beginning of the season we had it, but I think we kind of lost it once we got into conference. We’re going to try and bring that back because we are human and we are not invincible.”

Collegian Sports Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @haleighhamblin.