Nov. 28, 2009
By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Danielle Minch tallied a match-high 17 kills, and Megan Plourde added 13, but it was not enough to lift the No. 23-ranked Rams past the New Mexico State Aggies in the final regular-season match for both teams.
The loss marked the first for Colorado State since Oct. 22, a seven-match stretch, and put an end to the Rams’ 13-match home winning streak that dated back to the opening weekend of the season.
“We didn’t expect them to be as good as they were, defensively,” said Head Coach Tom Hilbert. “It was great, though. It made for a very competitive match. If there is a time when you can take one on the chin, and come back and have it make you better, maybe this is the time to do it.”
The Rams (23-5, 15-1 MWC) staked to an early 1-0 lead, opening the match with a 25-21 victory in Set 1, but NMSU used a balanced attack that featured steady doses of Kayleigh Giddens, Krista Altermatt, Erin Birmingham and Whitney Woods, to capture Sets 2-4.
NMSU stormed out to a quick 14-8 lead to begin the second set, and extended its advantage to 24-15, and was on the verge of putting the Rams away. CSU responded with a 9-0 scoring run that included a pair of Katelyn Steffan service aces, to climb back into the contest, 24-23. A Steffan service error cut the Rams’ rally just short, but it seemed as if some of the momentum had swung back in favor of the Colorado State heading into intermission.
The Aggies quelled any CSU momentum early in the third set, however, jumping out to an 8-2 lead before cruising to the 25-20 victory, holding the Rams to just .121 hitting in the set.
The deciding fourth set was very closely contested, and featured 13 ties and six lead changes, but despite eight kills from Minch in the set, CSU was unable to pull out the victory. The Rams held the advantage, 24-22, after Plourde killed her 13th ball. She then dropped back to serve set point, but sent the offering long. The Aggies took advantage, scoring three straight points, including a pair of kills from Birmingham, to finish off the Rams, 26-24.
Seniors Tessa Nelson and Katelin Batten, who were honored before the match along with classmate Shanna Casinelli on Senior Day, turned in strong performances for the Rams. Nelson notched eight blocks, eclipsing 500 for her career at CSU, and added six kills. Batten led all players with 15 digs, adding to her school-record career total.
Sophomore setter Evan Sanders recorded 40 assists, 12 digs and tied a career best with seven kills in the contest.
Giddens (16), Altermatt (15), Birmingham (11), and Woods (10) all posted double-digit kills for New Mexico State, who finished as the runner-up for the WAC title earlier in the week and was on the bubble with the NCAA tournament field set to be released Sunday.
Colorado State, an automatic qualifier as the regular-season Mountain West Conference champion, awaits its pairing which will be announced live on Sunday at 1 p.m. MT on ESPN News. Colorado State will host a watch party Sunday, beginning at 12:30 p.m. MT at C.B. & Potts restaurant, 1415 W. Elizabeth St., in Fort Collins.
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