Rams host Falcons Thursday night to finish off homestand

Ryan Loberger

Injuries are a part of sports, and every team has to deal with ailments that players sustain through the course of a season. For the Colorado State volleyball team, it seemed too good to be true that they’d go a full season without having to deal with this kind of adversity.

Middle blocker Paulina Hougaard-Jensen has been a force this season for the No. 14 Rams. The senior went down with a lower-body injury on Monday, and the Rams’ starting rotation took a hit. On Tuesday, CSU played its rivalry game against the University of Wyoming in a match that had critical implications in the team’s pursuit of the conference championship.

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The Rams took care of business and won the matchup 3-1, extending their win streak to 20 straight games.

csu girls volleyball team playing volleyball
Colorado State won in three straight sets against Air Force Oct. 5, 2018. (Brooke Buchan | The Collegian)

The past week has been a marathon for the Rams. Thursday’s matchup against the Air Force Academy will be their fourth game in seven days. CSU is 51-1 in their all-time series against the Falcons, and the Rams won the first meeting earlier this season in a 3-1 road victory back on Oct. 5. 

Air Force owns a conference record of 5-5 and is 8-14 overall on the season. There is no doubt the Rams will be the favorite in this matchup. CSU ranks at the top of nearly every statistical category in the Mountain West, while the Falcons’ stat line is rather mediocre. However, there are a few players in blue and white that can cause problems for the Rams.

Outside hitter Bailey Keith has had a productive season this year as a sophomore on the team. Keith is in the top 10 in the Mountain West in points scored this season with 267.5 and has notched 234 kills: both rank eighth in the conference. 

On the defense, junior Alex King ranks second in the conference in digs recorded this season with 360 and fourth in digs per set with 4.24. 

It’s unlikely Hougaard-Jensen will play for the Rams; setter Katie Oleksak will rely on Olivia Nicholson to fill in her place. The CSU rotation could see further changes as well. The Rams have played several games over a short time frame, and fatigue is a factor. Younger players will likely see action in the game.

Following the game with the Falcons, the Rams will have a long weekend to rest before heading to Fresno, California, for a matchup with the Fresno State Bulldogs on Thursday, Nov. 7. 

The game against Air Force is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday night at Moby Arena. 

Ryan Loberger can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @LobergerRyan.