Nov. 14, 2013
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By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Colorado State women’s volleyball program picked up its record-breaking 24th straight win Thursday night, remaining undefeated on the year with a 3-1 victory over the New Mexico Lobos in front of 3,317 fans at Moby Arena (16-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-19).
At 24-0 on the year, the Rams (15-0 MW) set a new record for the longest win streak in program history, passing the 23 consecutive wins CSU recorded from Sept. 20–Dec. 6, 2003. Additionally, the Rams have now won 20 consecutive matches at home dating back to Sept. 27, 2012. The streak is tied for the third-longest in school history and also ranks as the third-longest active streak in the nation.
“That was a gutsy game by our team,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “We were tight at first, but then we got relaxed and in a flow. I was proud of this team because that New Mexico team is talented; they’ve got a great future ahead of them.”
While at times this season CSU's offense has looked nearly unstoppable, the Rams were held in bay on Thursday, and had to find a way to claw their way back in this match to remain perfect on the year.
Looking to take the crowd out of it early, the Lobos (20-6, 10-5 MW) jumped on the Rams right from the opening point. New Mexico quickly took the lead at 3-2 and maintained their lead for the duration of the set. En route to a 25-16 opening-set victory, New Mexico relied heavily on its top-ranked defense, totaling six blocks in the set while holding the Rams to .000 hitting. It marked just the second time all season that CSU had dropped a set at home.
In the first set in particular, outside hitters Marlee Reynolds and Michelle Lawrence struggled to find a rhythm as the duo registered just two kills combined.
Noticing that the outside hitters were struggling early on, junior middle blockers Kelsey Snider and Samantha Peters filled the void for the Rams in Set 2. Snider, who finished with a team-high 15 kills, recorded six kills on just 10 swings in the second frame, while Peters added two kills and five blocks in the set.
“I was struggling in the first set, so I knew I had to pick my game up and start hitting higher and more athletically like I know I can,” Snider said.
With the Rams holding on to a 14-13 lead in Set 2, Peters recorded a kill and then registered four consecutive blocks to give CSU a comfortable six-point lead. From there, the Rams maintained their lead and took the second set, 25-20.
Coming out of the intermission, CSU relinquished all momentum with three quick attack errors, prompting a quick timeout from Hilbert. The Rams regrouped coming out of the timeout, though, and tied it at 5-5.
As the two teams traded points back and forth, CSU went on a 5-0 run to take the lead once and for all. Knowing that the team still needed a strong outside presence, Lawrence found her groove in Set 3, and picked up five kills, including the final two points, to help CSU win, 25-19. Even more impressive, Lawrence registered her five kills without committing an attack error in the set.
“Michelle stepped up after not having a great first set,” Hilbert said of his freshman outside hitter. “She came out getting some nice cut shots and did some good things. She hits with good velocity and does some pretty mature things for an 18 year old.”
Looking to close the match out in four sets, the Rams finally got off to the picture-perfect start it had been hoping for, taking seven of the first eight points. On its way to a 25-19 victory, CSU never trailed in the fourth set, and never allowed New Mexico within five points.
In the matchup between the conference’s two best offenses and defenses, the defense ended up being the key to victory. While CSU was held to just .180 hitting, its second lowest total of the season, the Rams’ defense did its part and limited New Mexico to .146 hitting and 27 attack errors.
Peters finished third on the team with nine kills, but made her true impact on the other side of the net with a match-best eight blocks. Peters has now recorded eight or more blocks in three straight matches, and seven times in conference play.
In the back row, three separate Rams registered double-digit dig totals, led by sophomore libero Jaime Colaizzi’s 16 digs. Sophomore right-side hitter Adrianna Culbert had 14 digs and junior setter Deedra Foss posted her eighth double-double of the season with 45 assists and 11 digs.
The Rams will return to the court on Friday for a home conference match against intra-state rival Air Force. CSU has won 40 consecutive matches over the Falcons, and with a win on Friday, the Rams can clinch at least a share of the Mountain West title to give the program five consecutive titles and its 11th regular-season championship in 14 years. The match is slated to begin at 7 p.m. MT and will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.