Kari Eakins, Townsquare Media

The Border War was only a battle for the first set as the Colorado State volleyball team beat Wyoming 25-22, 25-13, 25-13 on Friday night in Fort Collins.

“CSU played a great match,” said Wyoming head coach Carrie Yerty after the match. “They were firing on all cylinders, they were on their home court, they had a great crowd. Give credit where credit is due, CSU played a great match. We’ve got to get better and learn from it. I think that we lost a little bit of confidence and then couldn’t get it back. They just picked us apart a little bit, one point at a time.”

Wyoming started the match running a 5-1 offense with junior setter Rachel Keyes. Wyoming typically operates with a 6-2 so that a right side hitter subs in for the 5’7″ Keyes. To face a tough CSU team, Yerty said she wanted Keyes on the court at all times, ”Rachel is a competitor, she’s got more experience, she’s our floor captain and our floor general and it’s hard for me to take her off the court. It gives us a smaller block and it puts a lot more pressure on Jodi (Purdy) and Reese (Plante) when we’re in two hitter versus one hitter. It’s half a dozen one way or six the other.”

The change in the lineup caught CSU off guard and the score was tied 14 times in the first set with 10 lead changes. UW had a 21-20 lead before CSU’s Brieon Paige put down a kill from the middle, then Dana Cranston crushed it from the outside. The Rams then closed out the first set on 3 errors by Wyoming.

On the final point the Cowgirls tried to argue that the Jodi Purdy tip which landed out of bounds actually went off the CSU block, but no touch was seen by the officials. After the match Yerty said the call “sucked the wind out of our sails a little bit.”

CSU cleaned up their play and after missing 6 serves in the first set, the Rams only missed 4 through the next two sets while tallying up 8 aces for the match. The Wyoming defense held CSU to a .118 attack percentage in the first set, but that went up to .206 in the second set and skyrocketed to .348 in the third. Meanwhile Wyoming struggled to have just one player hitting positive for the match.

“You’ve got to execute your game plan and you’ve got to execute individually,” said Yerty. “We had one hitter hit above zero tonight and you’re not going to win many ball games with that. We also gave up long strings of points and instead of seesawing back and forth we struggled with being able to execute.”

That one player was Erin Kirby, but of the five Wyoming hitters who played in all three sets, Kirby had the lowest number of attack attempts at 14. Yerty said much of the offensive struggle came in the middle of volleys.

“We just struggled in dig transition,” said Yerty. “I don’t know if it was our location or if we were a little bit intimidated but Kirby played a nice match and I think Reese actually did alright, we just have to get everybody firing on all cylinders at the same time.”

Wyoming (13-6, 1-3) was led by Purdy with 5 kills and 13 digs while Kirby had 6 kills and Camille Coffman found 5 kills from the right side. UW hit -.028 for the match to CSU’s .198. Cowgirl Becky Stewart had a match-high 15 digs. Megan Plourde of CSU (10-5, 3-1) led all hitter with 10 kills, followed by Dana Cranston with 8.

“We’ll bounce back,” said Yerty. “I have 100 percent confidence in this group and I know that they’ll give me their 100 percent and we’ll bounce back. You know, CSU is a great team, they’re always a great team. I think we still have a lot of season left, I know we get the opportunity to play CSU at our house. We’re not going to dwell on this, we’re going to move on to our next match and get ready to play UNLV and Fresno and start building back up some confidence and momentum again.”

Wyoming will continue Mountain West play on Thursday, October 8th when they take on UNLV in Las Vegas.