Nov. 2, 2012
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By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
Laramie, Wyo. - Playing in front of an energetic sold-out crowd, full of both Wyoming and Colorado State fans, the Colorado State Rams left Laramie with a three-set sweep over the rival Cowgirls (25-19, 25-21, 25-19) on Friday night.
With the victory, CSU (15-7, 8-3 MW) moved into a tie for first place with San Diego State, and a half-game ahead of UNLV and Fresno State. The victory also marks the third time this season, and second match in a row, that the Rams have come away with a road victory.
Wyoming (17-10, 4-7 MW) played competitively in all three sets, but wasn’t able to stop CSU from running away at the end of each set.
“It was a hard and emotional win, and we had to fight like crazy, but we did,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “In situations like this, out team in the past has sometimes gotten down, but we didn’t tonight. We were in it, competing and never letting them separate.”
Colorado State’s offense provided just enough fire power to go with their stingy defense to propel the Rams to the victory. With 38 assists, setter Deedra Foss found the right balance distributing the ball to her teammates, guiding the Rams to 45 kills on .272 hitting.
Defense was the real difference maker in the match though. The match featured two of the top defenses in the Mountain West, with each team ranking in the top three in both opponent hitting percentage and blocks per set.
CSU outblocked the Cowgirls 8-7.5 and held the Wyoming offense at bay. With only 31 kills on 105 total attacks, the Cowgirls’ offense was held to a .124 hitting percentage, in addition to 18 attack errors.
Seniors Dana Cranston and Brieon Paige led the way for the Rams’ defense with five blocks each. On offense, the pair led CSU as well. Cranston finished the match with 17 kills on .306 hitting while Paige added eight kills on .467 hitting.
“She was really good,” Hilbert said of Cranston. “She carried us through a lot of this. If she plays like this, we win, because our other players are good enough in support.”
Freshman Kaila Thomas provided a spark for Colorado State’s offense in that supporting role, tallying eight kills and only two attack errors, including four in the final set.
The match started in seesaw fashion, with the teams trading each of the first 18 points in the match. Finally, the Rams were able to break free with a 4-0 run to give them a 13-9 lead and force a Wyoming timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, the Cowgirls clawed back to a couple of points down, but couldn’t withstand the pressure that the Rams brought at the end of the set. CSU finished the set on a 5-1 run to take the first set, 25-19.
Set 2 began in similar fashion, with the teams trading points early on. After Wyoming pulled away to an early 8-4 lead, Hilbert took a timeout so his team could regroup. The players responded, going on a 6-1 run after the timeout and taking their first lead of the set at 10-9. The one point lead was all the Rams needed to seize momentum of the second set, ending on another strong run, this time a 7-2 run featuring three straight kills from Cranston.
In Set 3, the Rams wanted to make sure to not give the home crowd something to cheer about early on, as they jumped out to a 5-1 run and forced a Wyoming timeout. The Cowgirls responded to the early adversity and tied the match up at 6-6, and again at 10-10. Eventually the Cowgirls took a 15-14 lead to force a CSU timeout.
The Rams would not buckle to the pressure, however, as they rattled off four straight points to grasp control of the match. On the way to a 25-19 win in Set 3, CSU was led by Thomas who had four of her eight kills in the set.
“Kaila was very good and really critical in Set 3,” Hilbert said. “I thought that was her best set.”
The Rams will be back in the comfortable confines of Moby Arena next week as they host UNLV on Thursday and Fresno State on Saturday in a couple of key conference matches.