Nov. 10, 2011
By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations
FORT WORTH, Texas—Despite a late comeback attempt, the Colorado State Rams came up short Thursday evening, falling to the TCU Horned Frogs in five sets (25-21, 25-23, 18-25, 20-25, 15-11).
The loss is CSU’s first since Oct. 8, a span of seven matches. During that stretch, CSU didn’t drop a set.
“TCU played very well,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “They beat us. They outplayed us significantly. They had a gym full of their fans and it got our anxiety up.”
The Rams (18-5, 11-2 MW) struggled out of the gate, and by the time they got going, it was too late, falling in the opening set, 25-21. Set 2 featured 11 ties and four lead changes, but ultimately went the way of the Frogs (22-5, 9-4 MW), as CSU entered the locker room trailing 2-0 for just the third time this season.
“Set 2 was all about end game,” Hilbert said. “We had our chances, but we didn’t play well on the blocking and defensive side when it mattered.”
CSU outhit TCU (.228-.211), and recorded significantly more blocks (13.0-4.0), but most of those came during sets 3 and 4.
“We have to play well and do the good things when it matters,” Hilbert said.
The Rams, facing elimination going into Set 3, weren’t willing to go home without a fight, taking the third set convincingly, 25-18. In the set, Megan Plourde and Katelyn Steffan each totaled four kills, and the Rams hit .364 to force a fourth set.
From there, they forced a fifth set, taking the first five points and never trailing in Set 4. Plourde willed the Rams to the Set-4 victory, pouring in six kills and three blocks. Although the Horned Frogs closed in to 19-17, a Tori Brummett kill and Dana Cranston ace separated the gap to keep the Rams on top.
But CSU fell behind early in Set 5, 3-1, and the deficit widened to 5-2 and 10-5, forcing CSU to burn both of its timeouts. The Rams got within two on several occasions, but dropped the final two points, and the match, 15-11.
Four Rams recorded double-digit kill totals, led by Plourde’s season-high 17 kills on .375 hitting. Cranston (13 kills), Brieon Paige (13) and Steffan (11) also were in double digits. Plourde and Brummett each had seven blocks.
“Our middles were great,” Hilbert said. “I was very pleased with them. I thought this was one of Meg’s best matches of the year.”
Despite leading 14-5 in the series vs. TCU, the Rams have struggled in Fort Worth, now losing for the fourth time in their last five meetings. The loss snaps CSU’s three-match win streak against TCU.
The MW regular season concludes Saturday as CSU travels to Albuquerque to take on the New Mexico Lobos. The match will start at 1 p.m. MT. The Rams, who have already won the regular-season conference title, will then open up the MW championship tournament as the No. 1 seed. The tournament, which will also be played in Albuquerque, takes place Nov. 18-20.
“We have to put this behind us,” Hilbert said. “We have to believe that the team we’ve been is the team that we are, and go out and play that way.”