Oct. 24, 2009
By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Despite a crowd of 2,123 fans, and a 10-minute delay following a fire alarm at the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Center, the No. 25-ranked Colorado State volleyball team got back into the win column and maintained its lead in the Mountain West standings with a thrilling five-set victory over the Lobos on Saturday afternoon.
Coming off of a disappointing loss at TCU on Thursday, and facing one of the team’s toughest road challenges to date, Colorado State (17-4, 9-1 MWC) won a see-saw battle over the Lobos (14-6, 5-5 MWC) that saw an incredible 41 ties and 20 lead changes throughout the match.
Four Rams tallied double-figure kills, led by 14 each from redshirt freshman Megan Plourde, and junior Danielle Minch.
Plourde, a middle blocker from Somerset, Wis., came up big for the Rams throughout the match, notching her 14 kills while committing just three errors on 22 swings to finish with a .500 hitting percentage. She also played a key role on defense for the Rams, tallying a match high, and career high with nine total blocks.
“Megan played very well today,” said Head Coach Tom Hilbert. “Our defense was key to this victory, and she was a big part of that.”
As a team, the Rams recorded a season-best 19 total blocks, holding the Lobos to a hitting percentage of just .112.
Libero Katelin Batten, regarded as one of the top defensive players in the MWC, also played a vital role in the Rams’ defensive efforts. The senior from Parker, Colo., continued a streak of consecutive matches with double-figures digs, running it to 18 straight with a 20-dig effort. It also marked her fourth 20-dig match of the season. Junior defensive specialist Audrey Hemmings pitched in with 10 digs for the Rams.
“Katelin, as one of the leaders of our defense, is a big reason for our success this season,” added Hilbert. “She plays mature and consistent, night-in and night-out, and that carries through the rest of the team.”
The back-and-fourth affair saw the Rams win Set 1, 25-18, and Set 3, 25-20, with UNM grabbing victories in Sets 2 and 4 by the exact opposite score of preceding sets. The see-saw battle continued all the way though the final set, which included eight ties. The Rams gained the advantage for good on a Minch kill to take a 10-9 lead, and went on to seal the victory by a final of 15-11 in Set 5.
In addition to Plourde and Minch, redshirt sophomore opposite hitter Katelyn Steffan (11) and junior outside hitter Jacque Davisson (10) also posted double-figure kills for the Rams. Steffan added three blocks, while Davisson recorded four blocks and seven digs.
Senior middle blocker Tessa Nelson chipped in with eight blocks, while sophomore setter Evan Sanders added seven total blocks (one solo) and passed out a match-high 46 assists, outdueling MWC preseason Co-Player of the Year Jade Michaelson from UNM, who finished with 44 assists.
Taylor Hadfield posted impressive numbers for the Lobos, tallying 21 kills on .359 hitting to lead the team. Ashley Rhoades added 11 kills for UNM, but hit just .036.
With the victory, the Rams maintain a slim one-game lead over TCU and Utah, who each have two losses on their MWC records.
The Rams will now turn their attention to Border War rival Wyoming. The Cowgirls (10-14, 1-9 MWC) visit Moby Arena on Friday at 7 p.m. Fans wearing a Halloween costume will be admitted free of charge. There will also be a costume contest, and trick-or-treating with CSU student-athletes.