Sept. 18, 2013
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By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – In the highly contested, defensive-oriented bout between Border War rivals Colorado State (9-0, 1-0 MW) and Wyoming (7-4, 0-1 MW), the Rams walked away victorious and unscathed in front of a season-high 4,118 fans at Moby Arena.
At 9-0, CSU is off to the fourth-best start in program history, and its best start since 2001 when the program rattled off 20 consecutive victories to begin the year. With the win, CSU is now 17-0 at home against its rival from the north under Head Coach Tom Hilbert, and has won 17 straight conference home openers.
“It was a very competitive match,” Hilbert said. “It’s the first time that we’ve played three really close sets where we had to be focused the entire time; we couldn’t take mental breaks. That’s good for a team.”
Junior outside hitter Marlee Reynolds led the way for CSU with 12 kills and three blocks on .345 hitting. Once again the Rams displayed great balance on offense. Including Reynolds, CSU had four different players reach double digits in kills as Adrianna Culbert, Samantha Peters and Kelsey Snider each registered 10 in the match.
Deedra Foss, who is third in the nation with 12.36 assists per set, once again distributed the ball efficiently to her team. The junior setter finished the match with 40 assists to increase her season average to 12.45 assists per set.
While the Rams have grown accustomed to rattling off impressive hitting percentage numbers in recent matches, hitting at least .300 in the previous four, they were held in check for most of the night against Wyoming’s staunch defense.
The Cowgirls came into the match featuring the nation’s No. 1 blocker in Erin Kirby, and also boasted the nation’s best blocking team. That strong play was on display on Wednesday, as Wyoming tallied nine blocks and 49 digs while limiting Colorado State to .266 hitting.
Kirby finished the match with six blocks, while libero Becky Stewart tallied 23 digs for Wyoming to help keep rallies going and take away points from CSU.
Each set featured at least six ties, with both teams being all squared at 20-20 in all three sets, as well. As has been the pattern for this year's Rams, the team found a way to close out the games and take the match, including the crucial second set, which had 15 ties and seven lead changes.
“I think it’s our competitiveness that comes out because it is close,” Foss said. “We make the right plays at the right times, and we’re competitive, so we’re going to do what it takes to win those games. I think we’re way more competitive this year than we were last year, and having everyone out on the court wanting to win and be competitive really is what allows us to win those games.”
While Wyoming’s defense was strong and at times frustrating for the Rams, CSU's defense rose to the occasion and was as equally suffocating.
The Rams forced 18 attack errors and held Wyoming to just .195 hitting in the match. Furthermore, CSU won the battle at the net against the nation’s top blocking team, out-blocking the Cowgirls, 10-9.
Along with their 10 kills, Peters and Snider each amassed five blocks apiece to help lead the way for the Rams on defense. They weren’t the only ones getting in on the action at the net though, as six different CSU players registered multiple blocks.
In the back, CSU also kept many points alive with great digs. Libero Jaime Colaizzi finished with a team-high 14 digs, while Culbert notched her fifth double-double of the season with 12 digs to go along with her 10 kills.
After missing two matches with an injury, freshman Michelle Lawrence returned in the second set on Wednesday. She made an immediate impact, sparking a 4-0 CSU run, including a kill and block from Lawrence.
“It was great to have Michelle back," Foss said. "She came in and made a difference and actually helped get this win.”
CSU will look to keep its undefeated season alive when it returns to the court on Saturday against Texas A&M. The highly anticipated match against the Aggies, who are receiving votes and are 26th in the nation, will start at 7 p.m. MT and will be an Orange Out. It will be CSU's final non-conference match of the season. Tickets can be purchased here.
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