Oct. 25, 2012
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SAN DIEGO, Calif.—Colorado State hit the road Thursday, and again an opposing gym was an uncomfortable environment for the Rams as CSU fell in four sets to the San Diego State Aztecs (26-24, 20-25, 24-26, 14-25).
After gutting out a hard-fought first-set win, CSU dropped the next three to fall to 13-7, 6-3 MW on the season. With the loss, CSU and San Diego State (15-7, 6-3 MW) are now tied for second place in the Mountain West, a game behind UNLV, which defeated New Mexico on Thursday night.
“Offensively, we were playing OK,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “To hit .241 in San Diego State’s gym, I feel pretty good about. But we not only couldn’t stop them, but we gave them a lot of sideouts on serves.”
The first set was a battle from start to finish, and despite holding the advantage for most of the set, the Aztecs battled back to take their first lead at 22-21. CSU tied the score moments later, at 23-23—which was the 13th tie of the set—and captured the lead off a powerful kill from redshirt freshman Kaila Thomas on the next play. Thomas finished the set two points later, giving the Rams the 26-24 advantage.
“In Set 1 we played great,” Hilbert said. “They hit well and we hit better.”
After taking a 2-1 lead in the second set, CSU didn’t lead again. The Rams worked the score back to 13-14 after a 4-0 run, but could never tie the score or take the lead again. The third set was much like the first, seeing 10 total ties. After turning a 6-6 tie into a 9-6 lead, San Diego State did the same thing to force a 9-9 tie. The Rams led again, at 13-10, but the Aztecs took eight of the next 10 to go on top. Again, though, CSU worked back to ties at 21-21 and 23-23 before San Diego State took the final two points.
“Even though we got outhit in the third set, we were right in that set,” Hilbert said. “We were ready to win it, and I thought we played really well. We just lost it at the end, and that was the critical one.”
In the fourth set, San Diego State translated a 3-3 tie into an 11-1 run to go on top for good, winning, 25-15, on .394 hitting.
“They defended really well,” Hilbert said of San Diego State. “They just kept a lot of stuff alive. That was big. It was a tight match for three sets, and then it wasn’t for Set 4.”
Dana Cranston paced all players with 16 kills. Fellow seniors Brieon Paige and Megan Plourde each had 14 kills on a combined .338 hitting. As a team, the Rams hit .241, but allowed the Aztecs to hit .311, the second-highest by a CSU opponent all season. The Aztecs made just seven unforced hitting errors.
“We gave them 12 sideout points on serves, which is way, way too many,” Hilbert said.
The Rams’ 12 service errors were a season high, and despite winning the blocking battle, CSU recorded just seven blocks, far lower than their season average of 3.03 per set.
Three players recorded double-digit digs, including 17 by Izzy Gaulia and a season-high-tying 10 by freshman Jaime Colaizzi.
The loss was CSU’s first to San Diego State since 2003, a stretch of 22 straight matches. The Aztecs are now 9-0 on their home court this season.
CSU will continue its road trip Saturday at Nevada (8 p.m. MT). It will be the first time CSU has played in Reno.
“We played at a pretty high level tonight,” Hilbert said. “I’m not going to fault my team for that. We just need to go out and do it better at Nevada and win that match. "