Rams open conference play with a sweep over New Mexico

Angel Cooper

Colorado State opened up their Mountain West schedule with a win over New Mexico on Thursday night.

The Rams’ defense helped them shut down the Lobos’ attack, finishing the night with 15 blocks. The Lobos recorded their lowest hitting percentage on the season thanks to stout effort from the Rams’ blockers.

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Coach Tom Hilbert was very impressed by the way his team played and knew that the Rams had set the bar high going into Mountain West play.

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Outside hitter Jessica Jackson goes up for the spike against the University of Norther Colorado Bears. The Rams beat the Bears in three straight sets. (Luke Bourland | Collegian)

“We blocked the ball well,” Hilbert said. “They created a lot of what we call trouble shots because they were out of the system. Our blocks were working so well, and we converted our points into kills.”

Outside hitter Jessica Jackson led the team with 12 kills in the match to help the Rams sweep New Mexico 25-13, 25-11, 25-15.

Kirstie Hillyer, a redshirt senior who plays middle blocker, made sure to keep her eyes on Lobos hitters and blocked them at the right times. Hillyer had nine blocks, and opponents in the Mountain West better watch out for this suffocating Ram defense.

One thing that stood out for the Rams was that most of the time, they were determined to not let the ball touch the ground, ending the match with 46 digs.

Junior Alexa Roumeliotis led the team with 11 digs and has recorded double digit digs in all but two matches this season. The Lobos’ attack didn’t have a lot of kills, but when they would try to go on the attack, Roumeliotis was always ready. She didn’t allow Lobos to get any easy points and has been a huge factor for CSU’s success on defense.

Rams are ranked No. 17 in the nation. Now, this can create a lot of pressure for the Rams. Hillyer agreed that it puts pressure on them, but her team is ready to get the job done.

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Kirstie Hillyer (13) calls for a touch against the University of New Mexico Lobos. (Luke Bourland | Collegian)

“I think there’s always that added pressure, but we are super excited to go to each match with a new outlet on things, and so we know whatever gym we go into, they are going to give us their best game,” Hillyer said. “The added pressure is part of what makes it exciting and part of what makes us want to give it more.”

The Rams will be hitting the road for their next match. They will be playing on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The Rams do have a slight advantage on the attack with the UNLV hitting percentage at .224% compared to CSU’s .268%.

If the Rams can continue to block at such an effective rate like they did Thursday against the Lobos, they shouldn’t have a problem with a 4-8 UNLV team.

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Angel Cooper can be reached at sports@collegian.com or via Twitter @angelcooper05.