Nov. 15, 2013
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By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The 2013 Colorado State women's volleyball team again found itself in the record books on Friday night, sweeping Air Force at Moby Arena for its 25th straight victory (25-21, 25-20, 25-21).
With their 25th consecutive win, the Rams not only tied a Mountain West record for the conference's longest win streak — originally set by Utah in 2006 -- but they also clinched a share of the Mountain West title. A win Thursday at San José State or a loss Saturday by Fresno State would give CSU the championship outright, which would mark CSU's fifth consecutive regular-season title, and the 11th in 14 seasons with the MW.
"They're incredibly consistent," Head Coach Tom Hilbert said of his team. "This is a wonderful group of people, and they're more composed than I am for sure. We have some good competitors on this team, and some kids that step up at the right times and make plays; they're special."
With the win, CSU improved to 38-0 all-time against Air Force under Hilbert. The Rams have won 41 consecutive meetings against the Falcons, which is believed to be the third-longest active series win streak in the country.
After a sluggish offensive performance the night before against New Mexico, the Rams rebounded with an emphatic display of superb offense. CSU finished the match with three players registering double-digit kill totals, and hit .333 as a team while limiting Air Force to .198 hitting.
Junior outside hitter Marlee Reynolds led all players with 13 kills, while senior middle blocker Samantha Peters recorded 12 kills on .476 efficiency and freshman outside hitter Michelle Lawrence had 11.
Despite the straight-sets victory, Air Force held an early advantage in each set.
The Falcons and Rams traded points back and forth in the opening frame, which featured 10 ties and four lead changes, before CSU was able to take the lead for good midway through the set. The Rams utilized a 4-0 run to break a 12-12 tie, and would keep the advantage all the way through to a 25-21 victory.
While CSU posted impressive offensive numbers in the first set, with 17 kills on .310 hitting, it needed its reliable defense to secure the victory. On the night, no one was better on the defensive side than sophomore Jaime Colaizzi.
Playing in the libero position, Colaizzi had nine digs in the first set alone, and finished the match with 23 digs. It marked the sixth time in her career that Colaizzi has registered at least 20 digs, tying her for fifth all-time in CSU history. Her 23 digs Friday rank as the fifth-most in program history for a three-set match.
"It's just about getting in a groove and adapting to each hitter," Colaizzi said. "The hitters tonight had the tendency of hitting some sharp balls cross-court, and then out of system they'd go deep corner. It's just adjusting to what each hitter does in different situations."
In the second set, the Falcons jumped out of the gate and opened up a 7-1 lead. Hilbert decided to roll the dice and not use a timeout, instead electing to adjust on the fly.
The move paid dividends, as the team used a 9-0 run with junior setter Deedra Foss serving to take a 14-10 lead. During the nine-point run, Foss registered four service aces while Lawrence collected three kills. Foss finished the match with a career-high five aces, in addition to 44 assists (14.67 per set), six digs and four blocks.
"I felt that Deedra played a really good game, not just as a setter, but she did a lot of extra things today," Hilbert said. "She was all over the place doing a lot of things for us at critical times in the match."
In the second set, Lawrence paced the Rams with seven kills and zero errors on just nine attacks as the Rams hit .395 as a team and held off Air Force to win, 25-20, and head into the locker room up 2-0.
In Set 3, CSU once again found itself trailing until late in the set, but once again, the team proved to be resilient down the stretch on its way to the sweep. Trailing 16-13 in the final frame, the Rams used a 5-0 run, which was capped with an ace by Colaizzi, to take an 18-16 advantage. CSU held the lead for the reminder of the set and closed out the match with a 25-21 victory in Set 3.
CSU will now prepare for its final road trip of the regular season. The Rams will travel to San Jose to take on the Spartans on Thursday, before facing second-place Fresno State Saturday. Thursday's match is slated for 8 p.m. MT and will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.