Sept. 4, 2010
By Kaitlyn Comiskey
Athletic Media Relations
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Colorado State Rams faced their first nationally ranked opponent of the 2010 season on Saturday evening at the O’Connell Center, losing to the No. 6 ranked Florida Gators.
Fans from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium across the street poured into the arena following the Gators’ football game, excited to watch the matchup of the two strong, physical teams.
The score remained close throughout the majority of the first set, yet the Rams never managed to establish a significant lead. Their first set loss marked the end of the streak of 14 sets won for the Rams, which began after the fourth set of CSU’s opening home game win vs. Duke. Colorado State now holds a record of 5-1, while Florida iundefeated at 5-0.
Set 1 consisted of a large amount of missed serves for both the Rams and the Gators, as Florida racked up four serving errors, and CSU tallied five, mostly due to aggressive serving. Both teams also ended the first set with fairly low hitting percentages, Florida at .194, and CSU at .108.
“Florida is a good physical team, they were a good opponent for us to go up against,” said Head Coach Tom Hilbert. “We were fairly even statistically, but Florida simply out-defended us.”
Senior Jacque Davisson, who was selected as the tournament's MVP, led the Rams in kills the first set, totaling five kills and hitting .300. She ended the match with a team high 19 kills, as well as and closed the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational averaging 4.00 kills per set.
In the second set, CSU maintained a three-point lead mid-game, 14-11, yet couldn’t seem to hold onto it. With Florida’s middle block Lauren Bledsoe hitting .857, and a number of tools on the Rams, the Gators out hit CSU in the second set, holding a hitting percentage of .167 to the Rams .065.
CSU came out with rekindled fire for the third set. A big block from Evan Sanders gave the Rams a 6-4 lead. Shortly after, senior libero Audrey Hemmings served up a deep ace, extending their lead to 8-5. Katelyn Steffan helped to give the Rams an edge with three kills on the set, as well as an ace and block assist. By the end of the third set, CSU had 18 block assists, and ended the match with a total of 25.
“We went into the match very aggressive,” added Hilbert. “I knew we’d block well as we usually do with athletic teams. We started out aggressive and became more timid towards the end.”
The score remained close at the end of the third set, and a kill from Megan Plourde in the middle helped the Rams gain the lead that they needed, giving them game-point serve, 25-24. The Gators answered with a kill, but a big block from Plourde on a Gator back-row attack once again gave the Rams the lead, 26-25. Outside hitter Danielle Minch hit it hard off of the Gator’s block to take give CSU a third-set victory, 27-25.
But Florida had no plans to back down, and once again the teams battled it out in the fourth set. A big triple block in the middle from the Rams, followed by a series of errors for the Gators quickly brought the score to 14-14. Plourde contributed four kills alone in the fourth, with a hard back quick to tie up the score once again, 20-20. Yet Florida responded with a string of points following this, going on to win the set and match, 25-21.
“This match showed us if we play our best, we can beat a team at this level,” said Hilbert. “And that’s what we have to do.”
The Rams will now return to Moby Arena to host the Rams Volleyball Classic presented by Poudre Valley Health System, Sept. 10-11. Virginia Commonwealth and Long Beach State will be visiting Fort Collins for the tourney.
Campus USA Credit Union Invitational All-tournament team
MVP - Jacque Davisson, Colorado State
Megan Plourde, Colorado State
Kelly Murphy, Florida
Lauren Bledsoe, Florida
Callie Rivers, Florida
Paige Penrod, Bowling Green
Casey Wright, Albany
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