Oct. 14, 2012
LAS VEGAS, Nev.—In front of a national television audience, the Colorado State Rams picked up their first road win of the season in big fashion, sweeping the Mountain West-leading UNLV Rebels (25-22, 25-22, 25-23) Sunday afternoon at the Cox Pavilion.
CSU never trailed by more than two points in the win, hitting .396 in the three-set victory. Seniors Dana Cranston, Brieon Paige and Megan Plourde combined for 35 kills .475 hitting, while sophomore Deedra Foss had 42 assists.
"I think we had a good approach to the match," Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. "Today, I told the team, `You're the underdog, and you need to do something exceptional to win.' They did."
CSU jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the opening set, but several unforced hitting errors allowed UNLV to hang close, and eventually tie the score at 9-9. The score was again tied at 11-11. At that point, CSU had four attack errors. However, back-to-back kills from Cranston gave the Rams a 14-12 lead, and CSU led for the remainder of the set and didn't make another error.
UNLV took consecutive points late in the set to cut the score to one, 21-20, but a kill from Cranston, followed by a Paige-Adrianna Culbert block moved it to set point. Paige got the final kill--capping a 3-1 run--to end the set.
"Getting that first set was really important," Paige said. "We knew that this was an important match, and if we could get on top first it would put us in a good position going forward."
Set 2 was close, as well, but the Rams held control for most of it, leading by as many as four--including 16-12 midway through. Three straight UNLV points forced a CSU timeout, though, and the Rebels took the next two to take their first lead since the set's opening point, 17-16.
Several points later senior Megan Plourde registered consecutive kills to tie the score and give CSU a 21-20 lead, and following a Cranston-Paige block and a Paige kill, CSU held a 23-20 advantage. The Rams finished things a few points later with a Cranston kill.
In the set, CSU hit .464, totaling 16 kills on 28 attempts. In the match, CSU hit above .360 in each set, totaling just nine unforced hitting errors.
In the third set, the Rams trailed by multiple points for the first time all day, including 9-11. That's when CSU took over, using a 6-0 run to jump back on top, and finish the sweep.
CSU scored three straight points to gain the lead, 12-11, and after back-to-back blocks from Cranston and Paige, UNLV called timeout. CSU got the next point to take a 15-11 lead, which it held for the remainder of the match, despite a 3-0 UNLV run late to cut the score to 24-23.
"Brieon was ridiculously good," Hilbert said, "and that's what you want. "Our offense was clicking, and so was our passing. It was a great win."
Not only was the win CSU's first away from Moby Arena on the season, but it also helped the Rams gain ground in the conference standings. UNLV was 8-1 on its home court entering the afternoon, and Mountain West programs are just 8-21 on the road in conference action this season.
In the win, Cranston paced all players with 16 kills and six blocks. Paige was the team-leader in blocks, totaling eight, in addition to 10 kills on a team-best .625 hitting. CSU had 11 total blocks on the day, compared to UNLV's two.
"They hit .243, which I'm sure their coach was pleased with," Hilbert said. "They hit good, but we hit better, and the biggest thing was blocking. We had 11 compared to their two."
Sunday's match concludes the Rams' two-match road trip. CSU will return home to play Boise State (Thursday at 7 p.m. MT) and Air Force (Friday at 7 p.m. MT). Thursday's match vs. the Broncos is Dig Pink night, as fans are encouraged to wear pink for breast cancer awareness.
Tickets can be purchased online. They can also be bought over the phone at 1-800-491-RAMS, in person at the McGraw Athletic Center or at local King Soopers and City Market locations.