SEATTLE – The Colorado State Rams won the first set, but the No. 24 Kentucky Wildcats took the next three to beat the Rams in four sets in the first round of the Division I NCAA Volleyball Tournament in Seattle at the Alaska Airlines Arena on Friday night.
The Rams (21-9) saw their season come to a close on Friday night, while the Wildcats (23-7) will play No. 8 Washington tomorrow night in the second round.
CSU opened the scoring with a dump by Katie Oleksak, but it was Kentucky that took the first multi-point lead at 6-4. CSU scored four in a row after that to take an 8-6 lead, including kills by Alexandra Poletto and Olivia Nicholson. Poletto was a standout in the opening frame, and her fourth kill put CSU up by four at 18-14. CSU then led by five on two occasions, lastly at 22-17. CSU gained its first set point at 24-22, but Kentucky answered to tie the set. CSU called timeout and rebounded, with Poletto providing her fifth kill of the period and then combining with Sanja Cizmic for a block to close out a 26-24 first set win.
After the Rams had 5 team blocks in the first set, the Wildcats found ways to maneuver around and through the strong CSU presence at the net. The Rams had only 1 block in the second set, and totaled just 5 over the final three sets combined.
Kentucky’s offense steadily improved as the match went on, and the Wildcats hit .444 in the third set while their defense held the Rams to .056. Kentucky turned a 6-5 lead into a 25-10 win in that third set, going on a 19-5 run to close the frame.
CSU’s defense fought admirably in the final set, with senior libero Cassidy Denny winding up with 20 total digs for the match. Amanda Young (13) and Olivia Nicholson (11) also reached double-digits in the category.
STAT OF THE GAME…
20 – Senior libero Cassidy Denny had 20 digs in her final match as a Ram, reaching the 20-dig plateau for the sixth time this season.
• CSU reached its 22nd NCAA Tournament in a row, dating back to 1995. The streak is the seventh-longest of its kind in the nation.
• CSU is now 18-10 all-time in NCAA first round competition.
• Alexandra Poletto led the team with 12 kills, her 13th match this season with double-digit kill totals.
• Leah Edmond led Kentucky with 20 kills on 53 swings.
• CSU hit .238 in the first set, but then proceeded to hit .103, .056 and .071 over the final three periods.
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