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Rams dig points after delayed whiteout season debut

Annie Sullivan attempts to block the ball.
Annie Sullivan (2) attempts to block the ball during the Colorado State season opener game versus Northwestern University at Moby Arena. CSU lost 3-1. (Devin Cornelius | The Collegian)

After nearly a year of waiting, the return of games with in-person attendance arrived at Moby Arena on Saturday for the annual whiteout volleyball game of the season. Despite a day delay, fans flocked to support the team as they faced Northwestern University. 

Colorado State University Rams expected to take to the court Friday night to take on the University of South Dakota Coyotes, but due to COVID-19 concerns, the game was canceled. 

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As Moby filled with a sea of white, energy filled the court, delivering adrenaline from fans. The atmosphere motivated the players to give it their all, but the eventual outcome was likely not what the thousands in attendance hoped for. The Rams took a 3-1 loss with scores of 25-23, 21-25, 25-16 and 25-20. Regardless of the results, these athletes put up a fight and started off the season with a bang. 

I think all of us still have a long way to go blocking, and that’s a big focus of our practice. We’re showing little improvements, and it’s different practicing blocking and playing a game and blocking.” -Sasha Colombo, CSU blocker

Kennedy Stanford spikes the ball past Northwestern University defenders
Kennedy Stanford (17) spikes the ball past Northwestern University defenders during the Colorado State season opening home game versus Northwestern. CSU lost 3-1. (Devin Cornelius | The Collegian)

CSU sophomore and outside hitter Kennedy Stanford said she enjoys “playing with adrenaline. … That atmosphere and feeling all of that, it can’t be put into words. Last year, everyone wants to say we still brought energy, whatever. That is unrivaled. That is as good as it gets.” 

Stanford not only felt the atmosphere but put it into her play, working hard in her team-high 12 attack points.

“Some of it was probably jitters,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “We’ve got some young kids playing those spots. … We just have to get through that, understand what the good plays are and what the not-so-good plays are and move on and get better. We’ve got talent.”

Regardless of the game’s outcome, the Rams had two sets with double-digit kills — the second and fourth, with 10 and 13 kills, respectively. Setter Ciera Pritchard finished with 28 assists. As the game escalated, the Rams offense got into a tangle. Northwestern Wildcat Temi Thomas-Ailara, who served eight aces against five errors, was responsible for some of the Rams’ back-row troubles. Ultimately, the Rams were ready to play but couldn’t pull through. 

“I think all of us still have a long way to go blocking, and that’s a big focus of our practice,” senior CSU middle blocker Sasha Colombo said. “We’re showing little improvements, and it’s different practicing blocking and playing a game and blocking. They have a very fast, outside tempo ball, so it just comes to seeing that and trying to get used to that.”

As the Rams work past this loss, they look forward to battling University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado, this Tuesday. With a new mindset, structure and a bit of practice, the Rams are ready to dig for more.  

Karsyn Lane can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @KarsynLane1.

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About the Contributors
Karsyn Lane
Karsyn Lane, Sports Director
Karsyn Lane is the fall 2022 sports director for The Collegian. She began working at The Collegian in the summer of 2021 as a sports reporter, followed by her promotion to sports editor in the fall of 2021. She is currently in the process of completing her fourth year at Colorado State University, continuing her passion for sports media through her journalism and media communication major and sport management minor. She began her studies at Colorado State University as a health and exercise science student in 2019 but immediately changed her mind, soon discovering she was ready to write for what she was passionate about: sports. As The Collegian's sports director, Lane is responsible for discovering the week's material, pitching the ideas to her reporters and collaborating with the sports editor to prepare the stories for the copy desk professionals. Since joining The Collegian, she occasionally has had the chance to return to her roots and cover CSU sports and have her work appear on the sports desk, capturing the intense emotion of sporting events on paper and building her journalistic portfolio. Lane has covered a magnitude of sporting events, including season-opening games and rival matchups, and notably traveled for the 2021 Mountain West Conference men's and women's basketball championships. As she finishes her last year at Colorado State, Lane is most excited to leave behind her legacy as a female sports reporter contributing to the history of The Collegian, just as some of her role models have done before her.
Devin Cornelius
Devin Cornelius, Digital Managing Editor
Devin Cornelius is the digital managing editor for The Collegian. He is a fifth-year computer science major from Austin, Texas. He moved to Colorado State University and started working for The Collegian in 2017 as a photographer. His passion for photography began in high school, so finding a photography job in college was one of his top priorities. He primarily takes sports photos, volleyball being his favorite to shoot. Having been on The Collegian staff for 4 1/2 years, he's watched the paper evolve from a daily to a weekly paper, and being involved in this transition is interesting and exciting. Although Cornelius is a computer science major, his time at The Collegian has been the most fulfilling experience in his college career — he has loved every second. From working 12-hour days to taking photos in Las Vegas for the Mountain West Conference, he cannot think of a better place to work. Working as a photographer for The Collegian pushed him outside of his comfort zone, taking him places that he never expected and making him the photographer he is today. As the digital managing editor, Cornelius oversees the photos, graphics and social media of The Collegian along with other small tech things. Working on the editorial staff with Katrina Leibee and Serena Bettis has been super fun and extremely rewarding, and together they have been pushing The Collegian toward being an alt-weekly. Outside of The Collegian, he enjoys playing volleyball, rugby, tumbling and a variety of video games. When in Austin, you can find him out on the lake, wake surfing, wake boarding and tubing. You can expect that Cornelius and the rest of The Collegian staff will do their best to provide you with interesting and exciting content.

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