Sept. 11, 2013
By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The Colorado State Rams (8-0, 0-0 MW) asserted their dominance and kept their winning streak alive on Wednesday night, knocking off the Missouri State Bears (6-2, 0-0 MVC) in three sets (25-21, 25-17, 25-19) at Moby Arena.
The 8-0 start to the season for the Rams, ties for the fourth-best in program history, last being accomplished in 1986, and is the best start overall since 2001.
“I’m very pleased,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “They’re (Missouri State) a good team, and I feel like this is a very good win for us. I think that they will finish in the top three in the Missouri Valley, which is a very tough volleyball conference.”
The Rams were playing without freshman outside hitter Michelle Lawrence for the second straight night, but once again, sophomore right-side attacker Adrianna Culbert stepped up in her absence.
Culbert finished the match with a team-high 14 kills on a career-high .542 hitting, also registering seven digs and two blocks.
“Dri Culbert has been exceptional,” Hilbert said of his star attacker. “She is a great all-around volleyball player, and she has improved herself physically. Now her ability to play the game is getting more kills. “
Senior middle blocker Samantha Peters added nine kills and four blocks on .333 hitting, while sophomore outside hitter Kaila Thomas had one of her best matches in a Rams uniform with eight kills on a career-high .615 hitting percentage.
Added Hilbert: “Kaila was great today. She was really important in that third set, really important. I thought she did a great job.”
Once again, CSU's offense was clicking on all cylinders, amassing 46 kills on .376 hitting. It marked the fourth consecutive match that the team has hit above .300, and sixth time already this season. Entering the week, the Rams ranked 10th in the NCAA for hitting percentage.
Matching its high-powered offense, CSU showed that it is not just a one-dimensional team. CSU played tough defense, out-blocking the Bears 11-4, and forced Missouri State into 23 attack errors and a hitting percentage of just .144.
Sophomore libero Jaime Colaizzi led the way for the Rams with 14 digs, while junior middle blocker Kelsey Snider notched a team-high five blocks in the match.
The Rams took control of the match from the very beginning and never trailed for the duration of the match. CSU is yet to lose a set in front of its home crowd.
“There is some Moby Magic,” Peters said. “Everyone always talks about it, but it’s great to have them get you a little pumped up.”
In Set 1, the Rams found themselves in a close set that looked like it could go either way. Tied 19-19, CSU finished with a 6-2 run to take the set.
Starting Set 2, sophomore defensive specialist Kaitlind Bestgen continued that momentum from the end of the first set, and recorded two service aces in the first three points to give the Rams control of the set en route to a 25-17 victory.
With 13 aces this year, Bestgen leads the Mountain West.
Coming out of the intermission, CSU quickly erased any thoughts of a Missouri State comeback, scoring five of the first six points in the set. From there, the Rams did enough to maintain its comfortable lead over the Bears and took the final set, 25-19.
CSU has a week off before returning to the court on Wednesday, Sept. 18 for a conference matchup against Border War rival Wyoming.
“I’m pleased to win this. We’re playing very consistently, and I'm very pleased to be 8-0 right now,” Hilbert said. “This team is on a roll, and we’ve got two tough matches next week against two great teams—Wyoming and Texas A&M. It’s going to be a fun week, and I hope we have a lot of fans come out and watch.”
The match against Wyoming is slated to begin at 7 p.m. MT.
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