Volleyball recap: Nelson leads Rams past Air Force
Oct. 10, 2009
By Danny Mattie
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Colorado State volleyball team used a stellar effort Saturday afternoon by Tessa Nelson to win its 10th consecutive match.
The Rams (14-3, 6-0 MWC) defeated Air Force (8-11, 0-7), 3-0 (25-22, 26-24, 25-20), at Clune Arena to remain undefeated in MWC play.
The win, coupled with a Utah loss on Saturday vs. New Mexico, gives the Rams sole possession of first place in the MWC standings.
“Tessa showed why she is regarded as one of the best players in our conference today,” said Head Coach Tom Hilbert. “She put together a total game and really stepped up when we needed her to.”
Nelson, a senior middle blocker from Balaton, Minn., paced the Rams with a season-high 10 kills on .500 hitting, and came up big defensively with a match-high eight total blocks (one solo), to lead the Rams past a tough Air Force squad.
“Give a lot of credit to Air Force,” added Hilbert. “They played an incredibly tough match, and took us to the limit in the second set.”
Nelson and sophomore Katelyn Steffan, who finished with eight kills and a pair of blocks, started the match off in strong fashion, tallying three kills each in the first set, as CSU held off the Falcons, 25-22.
Air Force bounced back from that setback, and opened up a 16-8 advantage early in the second set before the Rams stormed back, tying the contest at 20, and again at 23, before a Jacque Davisson kill gave CSU its first lead of the set, 24-23.
After a kill by Air Force’s Michelle Harrington tied the match at 24, Steffan and Nelson recorded back-to-back kills, with assists from sophomore setter Evan Sanders, to close out the set and take a commanding 2-0 lead. Nelson finished the set with two kills and four total blocks, while Steffan added three kills.
And with the victory in the Rams’ sights, it was Nelson who took charge, recording five kills and two blocks in the deciding set, to lead the Rams to the 25-20 victory.
Air Force’s Caroline Kurtz led all players with 15 kills in the match, while teammate Grace Konstanzer also finished in double-figures with 10 kills.
Sanders recorded 24 assists in the contest, and backup setter Shanna Casinelli saw her first collegiate action, notching two assists – one each to Nelson and freshman Dana Cranston – in the final set.
The Rams’ 10-match winning streak is the team’s longest since last season, when CSU rattled off 13 straight between Sept. 6 and Oct. 12. It also marks the third time in the last four seasons that CSU has won at least 10 consecutive matches in a season.
The Rams, who have played three straight vs. MWC foes on the road, will now return to Moby Arena this week for a pair of tough conference matches, vs. BYU (9-8, 4-2 MWC) on Thursday, and Utah (12-6, 5-1 MWC) on Saturday.