Nov. 21, 2009
By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The No. 25-ranked Colorado State volleyball team (23-4, 15-1 MWC) capped its outstanding run to the 2009 Mountain West Championship in thrilling fashion Saturday, picking up a 3-2 victory over the UNLV Rebels in front of 2,062 fans on hand at Moby Arena to help the Rams celebrate their seventh MWC regular-season title.
Having clinched the league championship and the MWC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with a victory last week at BYU, the match became a victory lap of sorts for the Rams, who closed their conference season the way it began Sept. 18, with a win over UNLV.
As expected though, the Rebels squad was a much improved team from the one CSU defeated in three sets on the road. And despite losing hard-fought battles in sets 1 (26-24) and 3 (27-25), the Rams - behind career-bests from junior outside hitter Danielle Minch (22 kills) and redshirt freshman middle blocker Megan Plourde (18 kills) – made sure that Saturday’s post-match celebration would not be dampened by a UNLV upset bid.
The Rams kept the Rebels at bay to pick up see-saw victories in sets 2 (26-24) and 4 (25-22), and left no doubt which team was celebrating a championship, opening a 7-2 lead in the deciding fifth set, before cruising to the 15-12 win.
Junior Jacque Davisson (14 kills) and senior Tessa Nelson (13 kills) also posted double-figures kills for Colorado State, while sophomore setter Evan Sanders notched match-highs with seven blocks and 60 assists, and senior libero Katelin Batten notched 22 digs to pace CSU’s defensive effort. Sanders also added three service aces, while Davisson posted a double-double with 12 digs.
UNLV was led by middle blockers Cursty Jackson and Erin Greenwood, who notched 17 and 13 kills respectively, taking advantage of quick attacks to keep CSU off balance at times. Outside hitter Sara Nehf tallied 14 kills for the Rebels.
The match was incredibly closely contested, as the Rebels hit .218 as a team, and the Rams connected at a .217 clip. The contest also featured 40 ties and 14 lead changes over the first four sets, before the Rams took control wire-to-wire in the fifth.
The win was CSU’s 13th consecutive at Moby Arena, and the Rams’ 18th in their last 19 overall matches over the past 10 weeks.
Colorado State brings its regular-season schedule to a close next Saturday, hosting non-conference foe New Mexico State at Moby Arena. The match, which will also feature “Senior Day” festivities, is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. MT.
The Rams will then learn their fate for the 2009 NCAA tournament the following day, Nov. 29, when the bracket is announced live on ESPN News at 1 p.m. MT. The team will host a watch party, beginning at 12:30 p.m. MT at C.B. & Potts Restaurant, 1415 W. Elizabeth St., in Fort Collins.