Oct. 29, 2011
By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo.—The No. 25 CSU Rams have mastered the art of quick work, sweeping their sixth consecutive opponent Saturday, defeating the UNLV Rebels (25-15, 25-9, 25-17) in just 67 minutes.
The six straight sweeps is the most since the Rams did so from Oct. 3-Oct. 25, 2003. Not only have the Rams won six matches in a row, but they have also won 11 of 12 dating back to Sept. 16.
“We took Vegas, from the beginning, out of their offense by tough serving,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “We’re starting to play really well, so it was just a really good effort t by the Rams today.”
As a team, CSU (17-4, 10-1 MW) hit. 493, its second-highest total of the season, including .577 in the final set. Four players—Katelyn Steffan (10 kills-0 errors-15 attempts, .667 hitting), Brieon Paige (8-0-10, .800), Megan Plourde (8-2-17, .353) and Dana Cranston (7-3-12, .333)—recorded at least seven kills.
“Once again, we had a positive ace-to-error ratio, which is outstanding,” Hilbert said. “We had seven hitting errors, and five of those were off their block, which is also outstanding. We’re just doing fundamental things right. We’re not giving away points, and as a result, we disrupt the other team and play that solidly that it’s a very lopsided affair.”
In addition to the offense, the defense was working exceptionally well, too.
UNLV (11-13, 3-7 MW) hit just .058 on the day, marking the seventh time this season that CSU has held its opponent under .100 hitting. The Rams also outblocked the Rebels 12.5-2, highlighted by Plourde’s eight, which ties a season best. All eight came in the first two sets. Steffan added five blocks, in addition to four apiece by Paige and setter Deedra Foss.
“I feel like we’re getting better,” Plourde said, “and we all know what we need to do to get to the top to finish out the season, and we’re all making progress to get there.”
Leading 11-10 in Set 1, the Rams separated themselves with a 12-3 run to gain the advantage. It was a big run again in the second set that put things away. Leading 11-8 midway through, the Rams rattled off six straight points and finished the set on a 14-1 run. UNLV’s nine points were the fewest scored by an opponent since Air Force put up nine points last November.
Several reserves played key roles in the match, including redshirt freshman Kelsey Snider, who started the final two sets and recorded three kills and three blocks.
“I thought Kelsey played great,” Hilbert said. “She came in and had a block right off the bat. When she’s presented with good attack opportunities she’s always productive. It’s the ones where she gets out-of-system sets. Today, she managed those situations well, too, and got a kill off of one of them.”
Marlee Reynolds (two kills) and Samantha Peters (one kill) also contributed offensively.
“It feels really good,” Reynolds said. “I know that whenever I do get my chance to go in, I feel like I need to prove myself, so it just feels good to go out and help my team.”
The win gives the Rams at least a 2.5-game lead in the conference standings with two weeks to play. CSU plays just one match next week—its final home match of the season—against Wyoming on Friday at 7 p.m. MT. Fans are encouraged to arrive early to help honor Steffan, the team’s only senior, in her final match at Moby Arena.
“(Wyoming’s) our only loss and we’d like to avenge that,” Hilbert said. “I think it will give us a little extra motivation to do well.”