Rams volleyball loses to Arkansas in straight sets

Colorado+State+University+Middle+Blocker+Karina+Leber%2C+Defensive+Specialist+Ruby+Kayser+and+Setter+Ciera+Pritchard+block+the+ball

Colorado State University Middle Blocker Karina Leber (42), Defensive Specialist Ruby Kayser (49) and Setter Ciera Pritchard (11) block the ball during the game against the University of Arkansas Sept. 1. Arkansas won 3-0. (Collegian | Michael Marquardt)

Braidon Nourse, Sports Editor

The Colorado State University Rams volleyball team lost their second straight game, this time against the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.

After a close first set – followed by not-so-close second and third sets – the Rams lost the match 3-0.

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Coming off of a disappointing 3-1 loss to the University of Northern Colorado two days prior, the Rams came out swinging. The Razorbacks managed to keep it close through the first set. The largest lead from either side during the set was when the Rams took a 19-16 lead, which was followed by the first Razorbacks timeout of the set. 

Junior Kennedy Stanford was locked in from the start but showed a particular interest in scoring kills toward the end of the first. On three separate occasions in the first set, Stanford received a pass on the left side and spiked it toward the middle, all of which resulted in Ram points.

Stanford led the Rams in kills with 10 on the night. Despite Stanford’s efforts, the Rams dropped the first set in extra points, 29-27. 

“We just have to play with what’s open, and there was a lot of times where that (left-side play) was open on the court,” Stanford said. “What we see is what we’re going for, so that’s what I tried to do tonight.”

The Razorbacks made successful adjustments for the following set, completely dominating on the attack and on defense. The Rams looked disrupted and had to take a timeout after falling into a 6-1 deficit. 

Then came the silly mistakes. The Rams were solid during the first set, but started committing errors, particularly in their service game and their defense. Most of the errors included slip-ups in communication leading to easy points for the Razorbacks.

“We just have to go out as a team and play better,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “You’ve got to get opportunities to run quick offense … in our transition game.”

The theme of the second and third sets was a team struggle to get the attack going.

For much of the last two sets, any time the Rams were able to get it past the Razorbacks’ blockers, chances were that it was because the ball was on its way out of bounds. The largest deficit in the second set for the Rams was 10 points, and the third set was lost by a match-high margin of 14 points, losing 25-11. 

One piece that has been missing for the Rams the past two games is the hard hitting redshirt sophomore Malaya Jones. Jones gives the Rams attack depth and more options but has missed the past two games with an undisclosed lower leg injury. Hilbert said the team is aiming to have her back sometime next week.

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“I think that we got in some holes, and we didn’t really dig ourselves out of that,” Stanford said. “That’s something that we need to learn how to do, especially heading into conference play and just for every match.”

The Rams are back at Moby Arena for a match against Florida Gulf Coast University Sept. 2.

Reach Braidon Nourse at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @BraidonNourse.