Last Of The First: Colorado State will play its final two matches of the first half of the Mountain West Conference season this weekend as it travels to New Mexico on Friday evening and Air Force on Saturday evening. The Rams take a perfect 5-0 record into Albuquerque, while the Lobos are looking for their first conference victory of the year.
Border War Win: Colorado State won the first installment of the Border War against rival Wyoming, 30-25, 30-18, 30-20. Colorado State was led by sophomore outside hitter Tess Rogers, who tied for the ninth best hitting percentage in school history after pounding 13 kills in 16 swings with just one error for a .750 hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter Becky Sarauer was also in double figure kills with 12 and junior middle blocker Katie Jo Shirley hit .692 (9-0-13) on the evening. Junior setter Melissa Courtney tallied a match-high eight digs and also tied her career high with five service aces in the match. Junior middle blocker Bri Frech led all players with six blocks in the three games. The Rams hit .396 for the match and had nine service aces, while missing just six serves. They also had seven blocks and held the Cowgirls to a .188 hitting efficiency.
Extremely Efficient: The first 10 balls Tess Rogers attacked on Friday against Wyoming went down for kills. The sophomore did not have a hitting error until 10-6 in the third game and ended the evening hitting .750 (13-1-16) which ties for the ninth most efficient match in school history (minimum 10 kills) and was the highest hitting percentage recorded in the Mountain West. For her efforts, Rogers was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Week, the first time in her career she has won the award. Rogers is the second Ram to win the award this season, as Katie Jo Shirley won after the Rams finished second in the Diet Coke Classic, Sept. 19-20.
Statistically Speaking: In conference matches only, the Rams lead the Mountain West in six of the seven categories. The Rams rank first in opponent hitting percentage, kills, aces, assists, blocks and digs and are second in hitting percentage. CSU is hitting .278 in conference matches, second only to Utah which is hitting .280, just .02 better than the Rams.
Hot Streak: The Rams have won 10 straight games and have been victorious in 18 of their last 19, dropping only game three at Utah on Sept. 27. The Rams have also won their last seven matches, the longest active streak in the Mountain West and the longest streak in the league this season, breaking the old streak of six held by Air Force.
Home Sweet Home: The Rams conclude the first half of conference play this weekend at New Mexico and Air Force, respectively. Of the final seven conference matches, five will be played in Moby Arena, where the Rams are 29-1 all time in Mountain West action.
Oh So Close: Several Rams are closing in on career milestones. Melissa Courtney needs just five more blocks for the 100th of her career and is 21 digs shy of the 400th of her career. Dre Downs is inching closer to her 200th dig and needs just three more. Becky Sarauer is 26 kills shy of her 700th.
Ticket Information: Tickets to all home Colorado State matches are available by calling the Ram Ticket Office at 1-800-491-RAMS or locally, 491-RAMS. Tickets are also available for purchase on the Colorado State website at www.csurams.com. Reserved single-match tickets are just $6, while general admission is $5 and youth general admission is $3 (ages 3-18). CSU students are admitted for free.
Familiarity: During conference play, the Rams have stepped up their play in every statistical category. Against league foes, CSU is averaging 16.75 kills per game, up from 16.13 in non-conference matches. They are also holding conference opponents to a .108 hitting percentage and 11.62 kills per game, down from .149 and 12.28 in non-league. A complete breakdown follows:
Kills/Game % Ast/Game Aces/Game Digs/Game Blocks/Game
Conference 16.75 .278 15.50 2.19 13.12 3.31
Non-Conference 16.13 .251 14.87 1.70 12.28 2.56
Conference Opponents 11.62 .108 10.69 0.88 10.69 2.62
Non-Conference Opponents 12.28 .149 11.30 1.19 11.47 2.65
Quick Start Important: The first game of a match is extremely important this season. The Rams are 11-0 when winning game one of a match and 2-4 when losing the first stanza.
Aces Are Wild: Melissa Courtney now leads the league in aces per game in both matches against all opponents and in conference matches only. The junior has 28 aces on the year (0.44 per game), with 12 coming in the five conference matches (0.75 per game).
Block Party: Three Rams are averaging over one block per game in conference matches this season. Bri Frech leads the league with 1.50 stops per game, while Katie Jo Shirley is at 1.12 per game and Dre Downs stands at 1.06 per contest.
The Little Things: In the last eight matches and in 11 of the last 12 this season, the Rams have had a higher hitting percentage and have tallied more aces than the opponent. The lone exception in both categories is Kansas State. The Rams are hitting .258 on the year, compared to just .139 for opponents and have tallied 115 aces to just 70 for the opposition.
Even Keeled: In conference matches, three Rams are nailing at least 3.50 kills per game, while three others are averaging 2.00 kills per game or more. Becky Sarauer leads the team at 3.94, while Tess Rogers is second at 3.64 and Katie Jo Shirley is currently third at 3.50. Casey Bauer is averaging 2.29 kills per game, playing in 1/2 the conference games, while Dre Downs is at 2.06 and Bri Frech is at an even 2.00 per game.
State Success: Colorado State has posted a 70-19 record (.787) against four-year schools in the state of Colorado. The Rams are 18-1 vs Air Force, 17-11 vs Colorado, 2-0 vs Colorado College, 8-0 vs Denver, 5-0 vs Metro State, 10-6 vs Northern Colorado, 8-1 vs Regis and 2-0 vs Southern Colorado.
Keep On Moving: With the win over Wyoming on Friday and some help from un-ranked teams, the Rams jumped up two more spots in the poll to 20th this week. The 20th is the highest the team has been ranked since Sept. 9, 2002 when the Rams were 17th. The Rams have been ranked 152 weeks out of the possible 294 polls since 1982, which ranks 16th in the nation. Nebraska and Stanford have been ranked all 294 weeks and are the only two schools with that distinction.
Queens Of the Mountain: Colorado State leads the conference in hitting percentage, opponent hitting percentage, kills and assists. Individually, Katie Jo Shirley is the only player in the Mountain West to be hitting above .400, hitting .416 and Melissa Courtney leads the league in assists per game at 13.05 per game. In conference only matches, the Rams rank first in every category except hitting percentage, where they are second. Individually, Courtney leads in both assists (13.31) and aces (0.75) and Bri Frech leads in blocks per game (1.50).
Early Starts: Colorado State has an impressive streak of wins when winning the first two games in a match. The Rams are 105-1 when winning the first two games in a contest since the beginning of the 1999 season and have won their last 29. The only loss during that stretch was the championship match of the Mountain West Tournament against Utah in 2001. This season, the Rams are 11-0 and were a perfect 17-0 last year. In 1999, they were 24-0 and 28-0 in 2000. The 2001 season the Rams were 25-1.
Sunday Night Spike: Colorado State will play in a live televised match on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 4:00 p.m. The Rams host Utah as College Sports Television (www.cstv.com) and the AVCA present a national volleyball match every week called Sunday Night Spike 2003. The match will be part of a doubleheader with Pepperdine and Santa Clara squaring off at 2:00 p.m. prior to the start of the Rams-Utes clash.
National Rankings: According to the NCAA statistics released through matches of Oct. 5 the Rams were ranked 21st in assists per game at 14.95. Melissa Courtney was ranked 22nd in that category with 12.93 assists per game and Katie Jo Shirley ranked 16th in hitting percentage at .407. The Rams also jumped into the rankings in blocks per game at 29th with 2.78.
Quick Hits On New Mexico: The Lobos have yet to win a conference match and have lost its last 12 matches. Overall, the Lobos are 3-15 on the year. Against common opponents the Lobos have lost to BYU, Utah, San Diego State and UNLV while the Rams have defeated all four teams.
Senior Anna Reines leads the Lobos with 3.31 kills per game, while freshman Jennifer Heasty is hitting a team-best .262. Monica Meihack has started the last few matches as setter and is averaging 4.15 assists per game and has a team high 0.31 aces per game. Sophomore Chelsea Sondrup leads the Lobos in blocking for the second straight year, averaging 0.80 per game this season.
As a team, the Lobos are hitting .172, while getting 12.34 kills, 1.89 aces, 10.34 digs and 1.77 blocks per game. Colorado State holds the 25-20 all-time advantage and have won the last 12 meetings.
Kelley Sliva McKee is in her second season with New Mexico and has a 13-36 record with the Lobos. Her career record stands at 156-140 in her 11th year of coaching after spending nine seasons at Northern Arizona.
Quick Hits On Air Force: The Falcons are 10-8 overall and are 1-4 in league action after dropping matches to UNLV and San Diego State over the weekend. All-time, Air Force is 1-18 against the Rams and have lost the last 18 meetings.
Molly White leads the team with a .289 hitting percentage, while Delavane Diaz is averaging a league-best 4.96 kills per game and leads the teams with 2.73 digs per game. Setter Kristin Huitt is averaging 12.30 assists per game and Carly Siefken has a team best 0.54 aces per game. Kristen Hamlett leads the team with 0.94 blocks per contest.
The Falcons are hitting .240 as a team and averaging 14.49 kills, 13.45 assists, 12.48 digs, 1.85 aces and 2.05 blocks per game.
Penny Lucas White is in her eighth season with the Falcons and sports a record of 61-157 at the Academy and a 156-236 career record in her 13th season as a head coach.