Sept. 26, 2013
By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Off to its best start since 2001, the Colorado State Rams (11-0, 2-0 MW) persevered through early adversity and swept intra-state rival Air Force (25-20, 25-19, 25-16) Thursday night at Falcon Court at East Gym.
"Air Force is a much-improved team," Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. "They always make it challenging for us to get a win in their gym, and that was especially seen in Set 1."
With the win, the Rams have now won eight straight true road matches dating back to last October, which is CSU's best streak since 2004. Additionally, CSU now improves to 40-1 all-time against its rival to the south, and has swept Air Force (3-11, 0-2 MW) in each of the last 18 meetings, including 30 of the last 31.
While zero players reaching double-digit totals for kills in the match, the Rams had five different players record at least six kills. Senior middle blocker Samantha Peters, junior middle blocker Kelsey Snider and junior outside hitter Marlee Reynolds paced Colorado State with eight kills each. Sophomore right-side hitter Adrianna Culbert added seven, while junior setter Deedra Foss posted a season-best six.
As a team, CSU hit .306 in the match and was aggressive at the net against Air Force. The Rams tallied 10 blocks in the match -- led by Peters with seven -- and forced Air Force into 16 attack errors and a .148 hitting percentage. It is CSU's fourth consecutive match with at least 10 blocks.
"We continue to improve our blocking," Hilbert said. "Our middles were phenomenal. Kelsey had a good match and Sam continues to be consistent in all areas night after night."
In Set 1, CSU got off to a sluggish start and trailed early in the match. Down 15-17 and coming out of a timeout, the Rams responded with a 7-0 run to take control of the set en route to a 25-20 victory. Sophomore defensive specialist Kaitlind Bestgen led the way for the Rams during the run, producing four service aces, marking the second time this year that Bestgen has registered four service aces in a seven-point span.
"We served tough tonight," Hilbert said. "We made too many errors, but part of that is us serving tough. Kaitlind was phenomenal; she won Set 1 for us tonight, pretty much by herself."
Continuing its momentum from the end of the first set, the Rams jumped ahead of the Falcons by taking 12 of the first 17 points in Set 2. Air Force clawed back to within two, 17-15, but as fans have come to expect with this year's team, CSU closed out the set strong, winning 25-19.
Leading 13-10 in Set 3 and unable to gain much separation, the Rams went on a 10-3 to give them a commanding lead and seizing the match from the Falcons.
The Rams will continue Mountain West play when they travels to Albuquerque, N.M. to take on the 11-1 Lobos on Saturday. The match is slated to begin 1 p.m. MT and will be streamed live on the Mountain West Network.
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