Sept. 22, 2011
By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo.—Conference action meant a new start for the Colorado State volleyball team, and the Rams took advantage of it, bouncing back from last week’s loss at Denver to sweep the Air Force Falcons (25-19, 25-14, 25-20), in front of 1,175 fans at Moby Arena Thursday evening.
The win keeps CSU perfect in Mountain West home openers (13-0), and improves its record over the Falcons to 35-1 all-time, winning 35 consecutive since 1982. It is also the 33rd time CSU has swept Air Force.
“There are some things we still need to improve on,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said, “but I saw a lot of things I liked tonight. We did block the ball well against this team the whole match. We had some goals to reduce errors and that didn’t occur during Set 1, but we got better as the match went on.”
The Rams came out firing. With Dana Cranston serving, the junior recorded a service ace, which was sandwiched between a trio of kills by junior middle blocker Megan Plourde. Before it was Air Force’s turn to serve, the Rams had posted a 5-0 lead they never relinquished, taking the first set, 25-19.
Set 2 was much of the same, with the Rams controlling the Falcons in all aspects, recording just five errors and hitting .424. In the final set, Air Force took its first lead of the match, and led much of the way, before CSU received kills from four different players to finish the match on a 6-1 run and seal the deal.
Kelsey Snider began Sets 2 and 3 in the starting lineup, and played exceptionally, totaling career highs in kills (7) and blocks (5). The redshirt freshman finished the night with a hitting percentage of .538 (7-0-13).
“I was happy to contribute,” Snider said. “I didn’t feel like I was at my peak, or hitting my hardest, but it was working.”
Six different Rams recorded five kills or more (Plourde, 10; Brieon Paige, 7; Snider, 7; Cranston, 6; Steffan, 5 and Thomas, 5), and four players recorded at least four blocks (Paige, 6; Plourde, 5; Snider, 5 and Steffan, 4).
Three different players (Izzy Gaulia, 19; Cranston, 12 and Smith, 10) recorded double-figure dig totals.
On the night, CSU held Air Force to .091 hitting. The Rams hit. 286, while also leading in kills (44-29), assists (40-25), service aces (4-2), digs (55-42) and blocks (12.5-4.0).
Plourde, who has put up lower numbers than average the past several matches, has been spending extra time with setter Deedra Foss in practice this week, and the practice paid off as the preseason MW Player of the Year recorded a season-high 10 kills on .438 hitting. She was also a part of five blocks on the night.
“I thought this was a very good match for Megan Plourde,” Hilbert said. “She was really getting around the setter and getting a good position and getting available.
“Deedra Foss, I think, is starting to get it at the speed that Megan needs it at. A couple times she set it too high, but she was patient and still got kills on some of the high stuff. I thought it was a very good day for Megan.”
Holding the lead throughout the majority of the match, many reserves were able to see ample time on the court, including Smith, a sophomore defensive specialist, earning her first career start, and sophomore Samantha Peters, freshmen Carlie Foust and Thomas playing critical roles at times. Peters recorded three kills on five attempts, while Thomas set a new career high with 14 attempts and tallied a career-high-tying five kills. Both were also in on a block.
The Rams continue conference action Saturday at Moby Arena at 1 p.m. MT when they host the Boise State Broncos for the first time as MW foes. The matchup will be the teams’ first meeting since 1995, when CSU swept Boise State, 3-0. Fans that bring two canned food items will receive free admission to the match. The contest is also part of the Coke Combo deal, which features two general-admission tickets, two drinks and two food items for only $10.
“Winning this match will give us a lot of confidence for the rest of the matches in conference,” Plourde said. “I felt like as a team, on the court, we were in control the whole time, even though there were a lot of errors. I feel like we were staying together, and that was helping us get through that. At DU we kind of separated, but we came together a lot tonight and that really helped us.”
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