It has been a tough, yet rewarding reason for CSU volleyball. The 2013 season started off defeating Texas A&M, Pepperdine and UC Santa Barbara out side of conference play, though the Mountain West has yet to pose a threat against the Rams thus far.
CSU come along way from the start of the season three months ago, and now only four matches remaining in regular season play.
“I think this is the toughest part of the season cause since we have already won the title,” Deedra Foss said. “We have to know we still have to work hard and not let up and know that we have to continue to push since the NCAA tournament is coming up.”
The bright light at the end of the tunnel is approaching but CSU must defeat conference opponents No.8 San Jose, No.2 Fresno State, No.6 San Diego State and No.5 UNLV to finish undefeated.
“We have to do them one at a time,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “We need to go win every match we play and I just feel like they want to do that as a team goal but you do that by focusing on each one.”
San Jose State:
The Spartans are the lowest ranked team in the MW remaining on the Rams’ schedule. With a record of (8-19, 5-11 MW), San Jose state does not pose a significant threat against stopping the Rams undefeated season, after a strong 3-0 defeat by the Rams in Moby Arena.
“They are playing better and they have a kid named Hannah Blum who is very good,” Hilbert said. “When we are in anybody else’s gym we have to play very well, you can not afford to go in and take a vacation. We need to play well Thursday.”
“Saturday I think is the hardest match of what we have left,” Hilbert said. “Fresno State is very good, they are playing well right now they are playing better than they were when they played us here.”
The Bulldogs control second place in the conference with an (18-9,11-5MW) record. Fresno State was the first team for take a two set lead over CSU, as the Rams were forced to make a drastic three-set comeback.
The Fresno State offense is lead by outside hitters Korrin Wild and Marissa Brand. With a combined 655 kills and a .475 hitting percentage, it will be key for CSU to block every ball and get any hand it can on those attacks that pass through.
CSU has taken great strides to solidify the blocks from the first game of the season. Now able to get a block not only solo but as a team, the Rams will need to limit errors on the serve as well as on the attack and on the serve receive.
“I expect that to be a very competitive match and one that we have to go in playing out best or we won’t come away with a win,” Hilbert said.
San Diego State and UNLV:
While CSU is focusing first on San Jose and Fresno State this week, the Rams will head to Moby Arena next week for their final two home games of the season.
“San Diego State and UNLV – I am not thinking about them very much,” Hilbert said. “San Diego State has sort of tailed off a little bit at the end of the year but you know everyone brings their ‘A’ game against us. I can promise you they will be two competitive matches.”
UNLV recently swept Nevada on the road. The Rebels also pushed the Rams to five sets on its home court, though CSU will have the advantage when it takes on UNLV in two weeks.
Though a record does not always show the true potential of a team the Aztecs and Rebels are not to be taken lightly, especially after a five-set defeat on its home court.
“We have a target on our back right now so every team is going to come out and play all out,” Foss said.
Volleyball Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.