No. 1 vs. No. 3 in the Mountain West Conference. Set score: 3-2. Total time: two hours and17 minutes. No matter how many numbers you can place on paper, none could depict the fight that the Boise State volleyball team put on on Thursday, October 17 against the No. 14 Colorado State Rams.
The Broncos came out of the gate hot, taking the first set 25-21. Right away, Boise State established their ability to keep up with a high ranked team.
Although it appears to be a close set on paper, the first set was filled with a powerful front row and electric combinations from a dynamic freshmen duo, setter Danielle Boss and outside hitter Lauren Ohlinger.
“I think we just had to go out there, play our game and just fight,” Boss said.
And fight they did. It was apparent from the eruptions from the crowd alone that the Broncos’ front row had some serious force. Every creation of momentum on the Ram’s side of the court seemed to be put down in a collective effort by the Broncos, who had a total of 18 blocks.
“We watched a lot of film on Colorado State and learned their tendencies, like staying with the middle, and trained a lot on how to defend them,” Ohlinger said. “I think it showed a lot during the game. It worked well.”
Colorado State is a big name in the Mountain West Conference, possessing a league-leading 6-0 record and a non-league record of 16-1 going into Thursday’s game. This was one of Boise’s hardest games to date coming off a record of 4-2. One of Colorado’s most notable attributes would be their size, having a 6’6 starting middle blocker, Kirstie Hillyer. The Broncos had their work cut out for them in practice before facing the Rams.
“During this week, we aimed high during practice. Colorado State has big girls and we prepared for that,” said senior outside hitter Janel Walley. “We practice like we’re going to play the best team every practice. And so coming out here, we knew they were going to be a good team. So we were hoping to swing high and give them a battle.”
The battle wasn’t solely fought on the court either. If you looked around the Bronco Gym, the seats were filled with Bronco fans and The Corral took up the north end of the gym, combining for a total of 517 fans in attendance. Each kill, block and score, the gym would erupt.
“We gain so much more momentum when we play in front of a large crowd,” Boss said.
The Broncos lost the second and third set, then came back in the fourth set in nail-biting back and forth fashion. The Rams ran up the score seven points, diminishing the lead that the Broncos created early on in the set. The Broncos eventually triumphed 25-23.
Thus, the match made it to the fifth set; it was anyone’s game. There were obvious levels of exhaustion from each side.
“The crowd definitely helped tonight. The fans were great tonight when they’re standing up cheering for us” Walley said. “We want to play for the fans. Obviously, we want to win, but when they’re there supporting us, their energy really helps us keep going.”
Eventually falling to the Rams by seven points in and the final set, the Broncos now look on to see their next opponent, University of Wyoming. Wyoming is now ranked second in the conference (11-7 overall, 6-1 Mountain West), projecting another tough fight for Boise State. But the Broncos are still here, digging.
“We lost a five-setter game against a great team like Colorado State,” Walley said. “We have a lot of momentum to come back strong against Wyoming, so we’re going to be here in the gym tomorrow getting better and preparing for that.”