Reporter-Herald Sports Writer
FORT COLLINS — He pinches his nose, massaging the tips of his fingers against the inside of the bridge, languishing for answers.
Tom Hilbert’s face scowls, eyes squeezing shut as the coach’s players huddle behind him. Colorado State teeters on the edge of defeat, a sensation the Rams avoided since late August and had only experienced once all season.
Everything between then and the moment Hilbert is now frozen was flawless. Perfection. Ten consecutive wins, a pair of victories over ranked opponents, one even on hostile soil. The Rams cracked back into the top 25 themselves, resting at No. 22 in the latest poll.
Yet here they were, just seven points from losing to rival Colorado at home, a true first for Hilbert, who had never lost at Moby Arena to an in-state opponent, flaunting a faultless 49-0 record.
“I think we got complacent, maybe comfortable,” senior Jasmine Hanna would say later.
“I just kind of felt like a lack of flow. It felt like we were constantly reacting to what they were doing. We were not being the aggressors in those situations.”
Searching as he might, the solution never appeared for Hilbert in the decisive fifth set as Colorado State lost a thriller to the Buffs on Saturday, 21-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-14, 15-8.
Colorado State is strong team, but not an impenetrable one. Hilbert knows it better than anyone. He’s seen it more than once.
The Rams struggled to open the season…