FORT COLLINS, Colo.—The Colorado State volleyball team had Saturday afternoon’s match vs. Denver circled on its calendar for an entire year, ever since the Rams fell to the Pioneers last September in Denver. CSU wasn’t going to let that happen again, however, jumping out to an early 6-0 lead and never trailing in the match, finishing with a clean sweep (25-14, 25-19, 25-21).
The win was CSU’s second within 24 hours, and puts the Rams in position to win the Rams Volleyball Rocky Mountain Invite, which concludes tonight at Moby Arena. CSU plays host to Rhode Island at 7:30 p.m. MT.
"It's easier now that the first game is out of the way," Senior Dana Cranston said. "I think it was just a little bit more comfortable today. We knew what we were working with, and what we were look at a little more."
Also with the win, Head Coach Tom Hilbert improved to 38-0 all-time at home against teams from the state of Colorado. CSU’s last home loss to a team from the Centennial State was in 1995.
The Rams were led by seniors Cranston (13 kills), Megan Plourde (11 kills, four blocks) and Brieon Paige (7 kills, three blocks), but also got plenty of production from underclassmen, including sophomore setter Deedra Foss (27 assists, nine digs, three blocks) and sophomore Kelsey Snider (six kills on .333 hitting).
“I thought Dana had a great match, and they even started digger her at the end, but it was still a really good match for her in terms of error percentage. Meg had a really good match; Brieon had a really good match. We were able to take our seniors and dominate the game with those guys. That’s good to see.”
As a team, CSU hit .315, and held the Pioneers to .098 hitting. Denver’s low hitting percentage, in large part was due to the first set, when the Pioneers recorded 13 hitting errors, compared to CSU’s eight kills.
CSU took the first six points of the match, forcing Denver head coach Jesse Mahoney—an assistant under Hilbert the last seven years—to call a timeout. In all, 10 of CSU’s first 16 points came off of DU errors.
“In Set 1, there were way too many giveaways, and I know it is weird to hear me say that, because I want the other team to give us giveaways, but the fact is, if we want to learn to win a tough game, you need to earn an ‘x’ amount of points. We don’t have to earn them in Set 1. In sets 2 and 3 we did. I think we showed flashes where we used our athleticism and power the way we need to be using it.”
With the Set 2 score at 13-10 in CSU’s advantage, Plourde recorded back-to-back kills, followed by a DU hitting error to widen the gap. CSU outhit DU .314-.135 in the set, with Cranston recording seven of CSU’s 15 kills.
In the final frame, CSU had a commanding 22-15 lead before DU went on a short 3-0 run to force Hilbert to call a timeout. DU, however, took three of the next f our points to put the score at 23-21 before Plourde and Snider finished the match with kills.
With the win, CSU improves to 2-0 on the season and 6-0 in total sets won. Dating back to last year, CSU has won 15 of its last 17 matches.
Earlier this morning, Virginia defeated Rhode Island, 3-0. The Cavaliers and Pioneers will play at 5 p.m. MT before CSU closes out the tournament at 7:30 vs. Rhode Island.