FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Two days after heartbreak in its home opener, Virginia Commonwealth University hit the road and nearly turned the tables on Colorado State. Fourteenth-ranked CSU prevailed, 3-2 (25-16, 22-25, 25-22, 22-25, 15-7), but not before VCU made it interesting.
"After our Georgetown loss at home, we knew our team was kind of at a crossroads," VCU Head Coach James Finley said. "It was if they were going to continue to grow and learn or if they're going to get discouraged, and they showed us that they're ready to win. It was awesome. I was really proud of them."
On Tuesday, VCU watched a 2-1 lead slip away in a 3-2 loss to Georgetown at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Thursday night, the Rams switched from a 5-1 system to a 6-2 configuration and looked like a completely different team, nearly pulling off the biggest upset in school history.
VCU trailed 2-1 in the match, but shifted gears and jumped out to a commanding, 22-14 lead in the fourth set on the way to a 25-22 equalizer. The Black and Gold hit .200 in that frame and held Colorado State to a match-low .114 hitting percentage.
However, in the tiebreaking fifth set, Colorado State came alive, hitting .353 behind three kills by Katelyn Steffan. CSU sprang to a 9-4 edge and never looked back on the way to a 15-7 win.
Despite the loss, VCU emerged confident and energized by the performance.
"I think everybody's got a little bounce in their step," Finley said. "We'll work on the things that we need to and hopefully we'll be able to pull off the upset with Long Beach tomorrow."
VCU senior Kelsie Clegg (Boise, Idaho), had 10 kills and five blocks while playing on her 22nd birthday. The Rams also received 10 kills each from sophomore Kristin Boyd (Wilmington, N.C.), who hit .348, and senior Mariel Frey (Litiz, Pa.). Sophomore Marisa Low (Carlsbad, Calif.) led all players with 17 digs.
Middle blocker Megan Plourde sparked Colorado State with 12 kills and nine blocks while hitting .579. Danielle Minch led all players with 16 kills.
VCU returns to the court on Friday, Sept. 17 when it meets 24th-ranked Long Beach State at Moby Arena at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.