With Saturday's win, CSU is now one win away from a fourth consecutive Mountain West championship.
Nov. 17, 2012
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BOISE, Idaho—After a sluggish win against Air Force on Thursday, the Rams wanted to prove the type of team they can be. They definitely proved it, putting up impressive numbers on both offense and defense in a 3-0 sweep (25-21, 25-7, 25-23) over Boise State on Saturday evening at Bronco Gymnasium.
The win is CSU’s seven in a row overall—extending its season high—and fifth straight road win after beginning the season 0-5 away from Moby Arena.
“We knew we had to play with more energy in order to win,” senior outside hitter Dana Cranston said. “We knew coming here was going to be tough. They’re really fast and they’re good at what they do. We knew we had to play a top-level game to win here.”
With the victory, the Rams remain tied with San Diego State for first place in the Mountain West standings with one match remaining, and have reached the 20-win plateau for the 18th consecutive season. A win Friday vs. New Mexico would clinch CSU’s fourth straight Mountain West title.
“We had the best start we’ve had for this entire year,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “The first two sets may have been as well as we’ve played all year long. We were ready to play.”
After leading from start to finish in the first two sets, CSU trailed by as many as seven—11-18—in the third set. CSU then took four of the next five points, forcing a Boise State timeout, and then six of seven to tie the score and take their first lead, 21-20. During the run, senior Megan Plourde recorded three kills and a block, including a kill to give CSU the lead. The score was then tied at 21-21, 22-22 and 23-23 before Cranston put the Rams back on top again with her 18th kill of the match and Deedra Foss ended it with an ace.
“We just chipped our way back into it,” Hilbert said. “We don’t win that set earlier this year. They just started fighting back and we were able to tie it up, and at that point I knew we had to be the tougher team, and we were. Our seniors are rubbing off and playing with maturity.”
CSU jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the opening set, and led by as many as five, at 9-4. The Broncos jumped back and tied the score at 14-14, though, and each point from 14-14 to 17-17 was tied. Plourde registered a kill and a Boise State error gave the Rams a 19-17 lead and forced the home team to take its first timeout. Coming out of the break, CSU got four of the next five points to extend its run to 6-1 and the Broncos used their second timeout. CSU was able to get the final two points it needed to win Set 1, 25-21.
“They were playing great in Set 1, and we just hung in, hung in and won it at the end,” Hilbert said.
In Set 2, the Rams put up one of the most dominant performances in recent memory, as CSU limited Boise State to just seven points. It was the fewest points scored by a CSU opponent since Air Force put up seven on Nov. 1, 2008, and just the third time since scoring jumped from 15 points in 2001.
The Rams hit .481 and held the Broncos to -.114 hitting in the set. Leading 6-1 and 10-2, CSU continued to extend its lead using a 7-0 run midway through to bring the score to 23-6.
In the match, CSU hit .437, marking the fifth time in the last six conference matches that the Rams have hit above .320.
Cranston led all players with 18 kills (.425 hitting). She has now reached the mark in three of her last four matches. Plourde had 10 kills on .615 hitting. Additionally, the Rams got six kills from Brieon Paige, three apiece from Adrianna Culbert, Foss and Kaila Thomas, and a pair from Kelsey Snider.
“Dana controlled the match,” Hilbert said. “She was athletic and springy. Deedra Foss is really, really good right now, too. She made about two bad decisions and 50 good ones. I just felt like we were great, great competitors.”
Returning to the lineup after missing the past two matches with neck spasms, Izzy Gaulia posted 16 digs. Culbert added 11 while Jaime Colaizzi had nine. As a team, CSU outdug Boise State, 51-30, and outblocked them, 7-4.
“Izzy played good defensively,” Hilbert said. “We knew this was the type of team who we were going to have to give them one-on-ones and we were going to have to dig the ball. Defensively, this was a really good match for us.”
The Rams have one match remaining in the regular season, hosting New Mexico on Friday at 7 p.m. MT. Prior to the match, CSU’s four seniors will be honored as part of Senior Night. A win will give CSU its fourth straight Mountain West championship and 18th consecutive berth to the NCAA tournament. Tickets for the match can be purchased at a discounted rate of $2 off.
San Diego State, which is tied with CSU in the standings, hosts Nevada on Tuesday. Regardless of that outcome, CSU can clinch the league’s automatic berth with a win because it swept the Aztecs, while the Aztecs beat the Rams in four sets.
“We need to beat New Mexico,” Hilbert said. “It’s coming down to this next weekend. We have one match to win in order to win the Mountain West, and it’s at home. I want to win that match in front of our fans for our players. It’s Senior Night, and it’ll be a big deal.”
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