Nov. 27, 2013
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By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Colorado State Rams' magical run of 27-straight victories came to an end Wednesday night, as San Diego State (16-13, 11-8 MW) overcame a two-set deficit to defeat the Rams (15-25, 18-25, 25-21, 27-25, 15-13) at Moby Arena.
The loss ends No. 9 Colorado State's (27-1, 18-1 MW) perfect season, and snaps the team's 21-match home winning streak, which was tied for the second-longest in program history.
Junior outside hitter Marlee Reynolds led all players with 17 kills for the Rams, while freshman outside hitter Michelle Lawrence had 14 and junior middle blocker Kelsey Snider added 12, as the Rams pounced on the Aztecs early on in the match.
"It's hard to swallow a loss after winning the first two sets convincingly," Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. "We played two competitive sets with them, and they gained momentum and ended up winning. I'm still very proud of our team for the run that we were on, and for playing courageously no matter what."
The Rams opened the season with 27 consecutive victories, a program and Mountain West record. The team's 27-match win streak was also a program best.
CSU hit .481 as a team in Set 1 and .438 in Set 2, combining for just four attack errors entering intermission, as it cruised to victories in the first two sets. In the first set, five different players registered multiple kills for CSU, while the San Diego State hitters were held to a .028 hitting percentage.
Set 2 followed the same suit, as the Rams opened up the set taking nine of the first 12 points to take a commanding lead. The set featured zero ties and zero lead changes en route to a 25-18 Rams victory.
The third set looked to be headed for the same result, as well. After trailing by two early on in the set, the Rams used a 10-2 run to catapult them back into the lead. CSU led by as many as seven in the set, 15-8, before the Aztecs came storming back. Trailing 19-13 in what could have been the clinching set, San Diego State closed on a 12-2 run to win, 25-21, and take all of the momentum in the match to the fourth set.
"They served tougher and took us out of system," Hilbert said. "We had more errors and were blocked more on our outside hitting because we were forced to do that. They defended better in the last three sets."
The Aztecs did not skip a beat in Set 4, which featured 14 ties and six lead changes, as well as numerous rallies that brought the fans to their feet. Apart from CSU's lead at 12-9 and San Diego State's lead at 15-12, neither team led by more than two points in the back-and-forth set. Trailing 24-23, the Rams fought off a set point and scored two points in a row to give them a chance to close out the match, but the Aztecs scored on the final three points of the set to take it, 27-25, and force a deciding fifth set.
San Diego State jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in the final frame, but the Rams showed their perseverance and tied the match at 6-6. There would be five more tie scores down the stretch, and CSU even held advantages at 10-9 and 11-10, but San Diego State's momentum gained from the previous two sets proved to be too much for CSU to overcome as the Aztecs upset the Rams, 15-13.
As a team, the Rams out-hit the Aztecs, .265 to .180, and out-blocked them, 11.5 to 9.0. Junior setter Deedra Foss had 55 assists and a team-high five blocks, followed by Samantha Peters and Snider, with four apiece. In the back row, sophomore libero Jaime Colaizzi led all players with 23 digs, her seventh 20-dig match of the season.
CSU will look to close out its regular season on a high note Friday night with a home match against UNLV. The Rams' three seniors – Cayla Broadwater, Peters and Michelle Smith – will be honored prior to the match for Senior Night, and afterward, the team will be presented with the 2013 Mountain West championship trophy, its fifth consecutive. The match will begin at 7 p.m. MT, and will be streamed through the Mountain West Network.
"This doesn't change who we are," Hilbert said. "We're 27-1; I would take that any day. We can't let something like this wound us, and I don't think we will."
With a win, CSU will guarantee itself the best winning percentage in program history. Tickets can be purchased here.
"We still know our potential, and we know what we can do," sophomore Adrianna Culbert said. "It's not like this one loss is going to define our whole entire season. We've already come out and played and competed every single game. We're still going to come out and compete Friday, because we are competitors. The one loss stinks, but it will help us a lot against UNLV and in the tournament."