Nov. 5, 2013
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By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
LARAMIE, Wyo. — The No. 10 Colorado State Rams remained undefeated and extended their program-best start on Tuesday night with a 3-1 victory (23-25, 25-13, 25-19, 25-19) over Border War rival Wyoming at the UniWyo Sports Complex.
With the win, Colorado State (22-0, 13-0 MW) also extended its program-best true road match winning streak to 15 matches, dating back to Oct. 27, 2012. The Rams also improved to 33-2 all-time against Wyoming (14-13, 4-9 MW) under Head Coach Tom Hilbert.
Although Tuesday was a road contest, the Rams felt right at home, playing in front of approximately 150 to 200 CSU fans who made the trip to cheer on their team.
“This was fun,” Hilbert said. ”It’s an electric environment, and we had a lot of fans here, which is awesome.”
Freshman outside hitter Michelle Lawrence had a night to remember, leading the Rams to victory over their rival to the north. While earning the second start of her career, Lawrence rose to the occasion, pacing CSU with a career-high 19 kills on .297 hitting.
The 19 kills were the most by a CSU true freshman since Tess Rogers registered 23 kills in a match against San Diego State in 2002.
“Michelle was great,” Hilbert said. “She’s a very, very smart hitter for being 18 years old, and she was the most steady force for us.”
As has been the case all season, the Rams exhibited an incredibly balanced offense with four different players reaching double figures in kills. Senior middle blocker Samantha Peters (13), junior middle blocker Kelsey Snider (13) and sophomore right-side hitter Adrianna Culbert (10) each joined Lawrence in double digits, as the Rams hit .312 as a team.
The impressive hitting was on full display in the first set as CSU registered 17 kills and just three errors while posting a .378 hitting percentage. The efficient numbers were not enough for CSU, though, as Wyoming’s offense matched everything that the Rams were doing. In the set, Wyoming posted 18 kills and three errors on .395 efficiency.
Wyoming led throughout the entire first set, and although CSU brought it to as close as one point several times, Wyoming did just enough down the stretch to hold on to the close back-and-forth set, 25-23.
After dropping seven of the first 10 points in Set 2 to trail 7-3, the Rams realized that it would be their defense that would need to take control of the match. CSU responded to the early adversity with a 4-0 run to tie it up at 7-7, and then used a 9-1 run to take a commanding 16-9 lead in the set. While CSU’s offense continued to flourish with 13 kills and zero errors on .524 hitting in the set, Wyoming’s sputtered, as the Cowgirls were limited to .062 hitting and forced into nine attack errors.
The Rams recorded four blocks in the set and were led by Peters, who registered three herself, as the team closed on a 22-6 run to win the set 25-13 and go into the intermission tied 1-1. Peters finished the match with a team-high eight blocks, marking the fifth time in the last seven matches that she has reached that total.
In the crucial third set, the Rams found themselves again in a see-saw battle with both teams trading points and unable to create separation. With the set tied at 16-16, CSU began to make its move. The Rams rattled off the next five points and took nine of the final 12 to once again snatch a close set.
Sensing that the match was theirs for the taking, the Rams made quick work in Set 4. With junior setter Deedra Foss serving, CSU scored a season-best 10 consecutive points to take a 10-1 lead on its opponent.
Although the Cowgirls made a run to tighten the score, the deficit was too much for them to overcome as the Rams held on to win the deciding set, 25-19.
“I think we just tried to stay consistent and play our game,” Snider said. “In the first set we were passing a lot of balls out and having a hard time clicking. Once we started recognizing that, we got into more of a rhythm and were able to play our game.”
While the Rams continued to make history, Foss made history of her own on Tuesday night. After registering 50 assists, Foss passed Ginger Kidd for sixth place all-time among CSU’s career leaders for assists. With 11 digs, Foss also registered her second consecutive double-double and the seventh of the season.
“Deedra distributes the sets every game perfectly, and she did the same tonight,” Lawrence said.
In the back row, sophomore libero Jaime Colaizzi had another stellar match for the Rams. Colaizzi finished with a match-high 16 digs, besting Wyoming libero Becky Stewart’s 12 digs. Colaizzi is just the third player to register more digs than Stewart, who ranks first in the conference and No. 15 nationally with 5.36 digs per set, in a conference match this season.
On Saturday, CSU will look to continue its winning ways with a conference matchup against the Nevada Wolf Pack (2-22, 0-12 MW). With a win Saturday, Hilbert would pick up his 600th career victory and become just the ninth coach in NCAA history to earn 600 career victories while maintaining a winning percentage of at least .773.
The match is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. MT. Tickets for Saturday’s match can be purchased online, over the phone at 1-800-491-RAMS or at the McGraw Athletic Center ticket office. The match will also be streamed on the Mountain West Network.