Sept. 10, 2013
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By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
DENVER, Colo. — Coming off an impressive showing at Pepperdine, the Colorado State Rams (7-0, 0-0 MW) continued its winning ways, defeating in-state rival Denver in four sets (18-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-13) at Hamilton Gymnasium.
The win marks the seventh consecutive true road match that the Rams have come away victorious in, the longest streak for the program since 2004.
“I thought this was a great performance,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “Our players did a great job. It was a great, competitive effort for our team, and I’m really proud of them.”
Sophomore right-side hitter Adrianna Culbert had a night that most players could only dream of, leading the Rams with 23 kills and 14 digs on .512 hitting, as well as registering three service aces and her third consecutive double-double. Culbert’s 23 kills were the most by a CSU player since Katelyn Steffan recorded 28 kills at Wyoming on Nov. 8, 2011.
“We had a bunch of different players who haven’t played a lot, so I was just trying to step in and help them feel more comfortable on the court,” Culbert said. “It's fun to be out there, and I wanted to show them what it's like to compete at that level."
The Rams were without two of their key players, Samantha Peters and Michelle Lawrence, but as it's been all season, someone new stepped up once again.
For the third consecutive match, Colorado State had four different players finish with at least 10 kills, and in each of the three matches, it has been a different group of four.
Despite hitting .368 and committing just one attack error, the Rams faced early adversity after losing the opening set, 25-18. In Set 1, CSU had no answer for a Pioneers offense that rattled off 21 kills on .545 hitting.
In Set 2, however, the Rams regrouped and looked like the team that had won six matches already this year. The team registered 17 kills on .500 hitting and was paced by junior outside hitter Marlee Reynolds’ six kills in the set.
Reynolds provided a nice secondary option for CSU's attack, finishing with 15 kills on .378 hitting.
In Set 3, the Rams found themselves in a tough back-and-forth battle with Denver, but kept making key plays in the set to spur the team on to victory. After impressive hitting percentages in the first two sets, Denver was limited to just .140 hitting in Set 3, while the Rams continued to hit efficiently (.395).
Colorado State continues to prove that it is a team that knows how to finish games. The Rams took four of the final six points in Set 3, capping it off with a block from junior setter Deedra Foss and redshirt freshman Acacia Andrews.
Making her first career collegiate start, Andrews finished with 10 kills and six blocks.
"I was excited for the opportunity," Andrews said. "I’ve been waiting to show what I can do on the court, so hopefully tonight was an inkling of what I can do in the future."
Added Hilbert: “Acacia is a big, physical force out there. She's still learning, but this was a great experience for her; this was her first real college match. I’m proud of her. She did a great job and had some nice blocks at critical times and she had some kills at critical times.”
In Set 4, CSU made sure to leave no doubt on the court as to who was walking away with a victory. The Rams jumped ahead of the Pioneers, taking seven of the first eight points in the set, and never looked back en route to a 25-13 victory.
Foss paced the high-powered CSU attack with 54 assists, her third consecutive 50-plus assist match, while middle blocker Kelsey Snider notched 10 kills on .429 hitting. As a team, the Rams hit .412, the second highest mark of the season and third consecutive match hitting at least .300.
On defense, sophomore libero Jaime Colaizzi posted her fifth consecutive double-digit dig performance with 13 digs.
“It’s an incredible thing about this particular group,” Hilbert said of his team. “They’re courageous, they play hard, they support each other. No one really goes out there with a negative attitude. This is a fun group of players to coach. They respond to coaching well. I just love them for that.”
CSU returns to the court tomorrow to take on Missouri State (6-1) at Moby Arena. The match is slated to begin at 7 p.m. MT.