Nov. 23, 2013
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FRESNO, Calif. – Head Coach Tom Hilbert stressed all week that he thought Saturday would be the toughest road test of the conference season. The No. 10 Rams were up for the challenge, sweeping Fresno State (25-13, 25-16, 25-21) at the Save Mart Center.
With the victory, Colorado State (27-0, 18-0 MW) – which clinched its fifth consecutive Mountain West championship last weekend – finished the regular season undefeated on the road for the first time in program history, extending its true road winning streak to 17 matches.
"We played with maturity," Hilbert said. "We're playing clean, we're playing aggressively when we need to and we're doing the right things. We played exceptionally well today."
CSU hit at an impressive .384 clip, with just seven attack errors – one unforced – on 99 swings. Junior Marlee Reynolds had a team-best 13 kills, while Kelsey Snider, also a junior, had 12 on .611 hitting.
"Marlee was taking very smart swings," Hilbert said. "I was really pleased with the level of composure she was playing with. Snider is super athletic. This is a team that she matches up well with. You have to use her the right way, and Deedra Foss made the right decisions of when to set her, which resulted in a great match for her."
The major difference, however, was serving – freshman Cassidy Denny had three service aces – and defense.
"We did a great job serving and blocking, and we were solid with our serve-receive," Hilbert said. "Even though we didn't have a ton of stuff blocks, we were getting touches on almost everything, and really disrupted their offense."
CSU out-blocked Fresno State (17-3, 7-11 MW), 9.0 to 6.0, and recorded 50 digs to Fresno State's 41. Sophomore libero Jaime Colaizzi had 17 digs for the Rams.
"Jaime Colaizzi was the unsung hero," Hilbert said. "She had 17 digs, which is really good for a three-set match, but she had critical digs against good offensive attacks. She was diving all over the place, and did a great job."
Also impressive was how CSU limited Fresno State senior outside hitter Korrin Wild, who ranks second in the Mountain West in kills. In three prior matches against the Rams, Wild has averaged 4.75 kills per set. Saturday, she had six total kills on -.061 hitting.
"It was a combination of us serving and blocking well to neutralize her," Hilbert said. "She didn't get into a rhythm because we were able to stop her early."
The Rams stayed in control throughout the entire match, pulling away midway through in sets 1 and 2.
In the opening frame, leading just 9-8, CSU took 10 of the next 12 point to take a commanding 19-10 lead. The Rams would lead by at least eight for the remainder of the set, hitting .382. Their offense was even more impressive in Set 2, hitting .467. Following a 6-6 tie, CSU took 12 of the next 15 points to lead, 18-9. Four of the final five points came from Snider, who finished the set with seven kills. The Bulldogs would get within four, 19-15, but CSU regrouped following a timeout, and closed on a 6-1 run.
In the final set, the Rams led from start to finish, holding off a late Fresno State rally.
The 27 victories on the season is tied for the sixth-most in program history, and the most since 2003. Overall, CSU has won 27 straight matches – the second-longest active streak in the nation – in addition to 35 straight regular-season matches (first).
"We came into the match relaxed, and that's when I think we're at our best," Hilbert said. "We have two home matches remaining, and we need to finish strong."
CSU hosts San Diego State on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and UNLV Friday at 7 p.m. Prior to Friday's match, CSU's three seniors will be honored, and afterward, the Rams will be presented with the 2013 Mountain West championship trophy. Tickets can be purchased here.
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