“That was a fascinating match,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “This was an unbelievably statistically good match with regard to the mistakes the teams made.”
The Aztecs (9-5, 1-2 MW) finished with more kills—41 to 38—but the Rams (8-5, 2-1 MW) recorded more blocks (8-5), more service aces (8-2) and fewer total errors (10-31).
“We had nine hitting errors, and five of them came from blocks,” Hilbert said. “That means we hit four unforced hitting errors in 106 attempts. That’s really good, as good as any team in the country.
“To top that off, we had eight service aces and one service error. We gave away 10 points in three sets, which is phenomenal.”
CSU’s nine hitting errors tied a season low, which was previously set on Thursday vs. Nevada. It marked the first time since Aug. 27, 2011 that the Rams have recorded single-digit hitting errors in back-to-back matches. Additionally, CSU’s eight aces were a season high. Six of those aces came from senior Dana Cranston.
“I was just connecting with the ball really well, and my serve matched up with one of their rotations where we could take advantage,” Cranston said. “Aces provide a lot of momentum because you hardly have to work for the point; it’s kind of like a free point.”
Cranston’s six aces were a career high, and the most by a Rams player since Jacque Davisson had seven vs. UNLV on Nov. 1, 2008.
The senior outside hitter also led CSU with 11 kills on .476 hitting. It marks the fifth straight match she has recorded double-digit kill totals. She also posted 10 digs to earn her fourth double-double of the season.
Cranston hit .522 this week, tallying 25 kills and just two errors (25-2-44) in two matches.
“I think I’ve come to the realization that I need to be consistent at that level for us to do well,” Cranston said. “Every game, I go in—no matter who the opponent is—knowing that I need to either be helping a player get out of that point run or being the player getting us out of that point run.”
Leading 11-10 in the opening set, CSU responded with a 5-1 run to force an Aztec timeout. The Rams took 14 of the final 21 points in the set to gain the early advantage.
In Set 2, CSU trailed for the only time after San Diego State earned the first point. The Rams and Aztecs were then tied at 1-1 and 3-3 before CSU used a 7-0 run to provide separation. Cranston tallied two aces in the run, and CSU didn’t trail again. The Rams led from start to finish in the final set, taking an early 4-0 lead and leading by as many as seven.
The Aztecs were picked to finish second in the Mountain West preseason poll.
“Getting two wins this weekend definitely gives us a boost in our confidence,” Gaulia said. “We played pretty well these last two matches, and if we keep doing what we’ve been doing in practice, I think that we can continue to do very well, especially on the road; that’s where we need to play well.”
CSU will remain at home for one more match before hitting the road. The Rams host the Wyoming Cowgirls on Friday at 7:45 p.m. The match will take place in conjunction with the University’s Homecoming & Family Weekend. More than 30 former players will be recognized during the match as part of this year’s volleyball Alumni Weekend.
Tickets for volleyball’s Border War can be purchased online. Tickets can also be obtained over the phone at 1-800-491-RAMS, in person at the McGraw Athletic Center or at local King Soopers and City Market locations.