Oct. 26, 2013
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By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The Colorado State Rams (19-0, 10-0 MW) swept the San José State Spartans (5-16, 2-8 MW) with relative ease (25-12, 25-18, 25-11) on Saturday afternoon to remain one of the nation's two undefeated teams.
The team's 19-match winning streak is tied for third-best overall in school history, and Saturday marks the fourth year that CSU has won its first 10 Mountain West matches. At 19-0, the Rams are off to their second-best start to a season, just one win away from matching their best-ever start, when they began the 2001 season 20-0.
"I'm very pleased with how cleanly we played," Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. "We were very clean, and we passed the ball very well; our side-out percentages reflected it. We're glad to finish the first half of the league undefeated."
Playing each other for the first time since San José State joined the Mountain West, the Rams made sure not to give the Spartans a warm welcome to their new conference.
From the first point, CSU's offense was clicking on all cylinders. Led by junior setter Deedra Foss' 37 assists, the Rams hit .488 (49-7-86) for the match, hitting at least .444 each set. On the other end, apart from a strong second set where the Spartans hit .344, SJSU's offense was neutralized by CSU's defense. As a team, the Spartans hit just .163 and were forced into 16 attack errors.
Junior outside hitter Marlee Reynolds had another strong showing on Saturday, posting 15 kills and three blocks on a season-best .583 hitting percentage. It marked the third time in the last four matches that Reynolds has eclipsed the 15-kill mark.
"Marlee had a fantastic game," Hilbert said. "She had a lot of split blocks to look at, but she also made great decisions and hit the ball high and hard. That's what we need to see from her."
While Reynolds paced the Rams with 15 kills, sophomore right-side hitter Adriana Culbert, junior middle blocker Kelsey Snider and senior middle blocker Samantha Peters all provided great balance and registered eight kills apiece. Sophomore outside hitter Kaila Thomas, who was still filling in for the injured Michelle Lawrence, added six kills.
Impressively, every CSU attacker hit at least .308, while six different players hit above .400 for the match.
For SJSU, senior outside hitter Hanah Blume, who is second in the conference in kills, had 16 kills and just two errors while hitting .424, but her teammates could not get into a groove against the CSU defense.
While the Rams only had 5.5 blocks for the match, the Spartans were pushed to take aggressive swings due to CSU's offense that often times forced San José State to play out of system. In the back row, sophomore libero Jaime Colaizzi registered 10 digs while freshman defensive specialist Cassidy Denny had nine and Culbert chipped in with eight.
CSU got off to as great of a start as it could have hoped for in the opening set. With Denny serving, the Rams quickly rattled off five consecutive points and forced a quick timeout. CSU took nine of the first 10 points in the set, and got more strong serving from Colaizzi. Colaizzi had back-to-back aces midway through the set, and finished with a career-high three service aces, all of which came in the first set. Behind the strong serving and efficient attacking, CSU never trailed en route to a 25-12 win.
The Spartans took their first lead early on in Set 2. The lead didn't last long as the Rams regained the lead at 8-7 and never relinquished it. While SJSU stayed within three or four points for most of the set, CSU pulled away late, taking the final three points to win, 25-18. Reynolds and Culbert were both especially effective in the second set, each notching five kills on just six swings.
Coming out of the intermission with a 2-0 lead, CSU left little doubt as to where this match was headed. After dropping the first two points, CSU took the next four and didn't look back. Leading 7-6, the Rams went on an 11-1 run to take a commanding lead in the match-clinching set, which they would win 25-11.
Looking to secure the program's best start, the Rams will be up for the task as they begin a three-match road trip. CSU will play at Boise State on Thursday before traveling to Logan, Utah to take on the Utah State Aggies on Saturday. Both matches will be available on the Mountain West Network.
"I look forward to conquering those tough matches," Colaizzi said of the upcoming road trip. "I think our record is great, but it doesn't mean anything yet; we have a long way to go and a lot to still do. I think we have some tough road matches coming up, so that's where my focus is right now."