ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — To Tom Hilbert, the idea is ridiculous.
Not the fact his Colorado State volleyball team blew a two-set lead on the road at New Mexico on Thursday night, but the manner in which the Rams eventually dropped their Mountain West opener, 10-25, 18-25, 25-11, 25-20, 15-9.
“We are just not good competitors when things get tough,” Hilbert said after his team fell to 7-5 overall. “I mean, I’m saying it out loud — we’re not. We get tentative and we quit taking good swings and we make tons of mistakes.”
That was evident. Dana Cranston had 11 kills, but also 10 hitting errors. That was a total matched by Kelsey Snider on the opposite side, but she only had seven kills. In all, the Rams had 30 hitting errors and eight more from the service line.
Hilbert said the main problem with competitive spirit came in how the match played out, because against the likes of Tennessee and UCLA, it wasn’t a problem.
“The problem is when we faced UCLA they don’t perceive it, because they just know it’s going to be tough,” Hilbert said. “But against New Mexico, we won the first two big and they think this is going to be easy. When it’s not, we become very tentative people and we just do the wrong things.”
It is shocking to him, considering the team has four seniors. And as of now, he said he’s not sure where to turn.
“So it’s really, we need to find a better team heartbeat is what we need to find,” he said.
Megan Plourde had a strong match in the middle, leading the Rams with 13 kills and 11 total blocks, but Hilbert said middles can’t pull a team out of a tough match, especially when New Mexico served so tough, keeping the Rams from setting her.
This was a Lobos team (13-2) that lost four starters from a season ago and two more from this year’s lineup. After losing the first two, New Mexico took a chance by taking their best player out of the front line, leaving a lot of hitting to a defensive specialist at outside. Alijah Gunsaulus led all players with 14 kills.
“If we play matches like this, we will lose matches to a lot of teams,” Hilbert said.
Colorado State is off until Thursday when it hosts Nevada at Moby Arena (7 p.m.).link