Dec. 3, 2010
By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
STANFORD, Calif. -- The Colorado State volleyball team was on the verge of elimination Friday evening at Stanford’s Maples Center in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, but a record-setting performance by sophomore middle blocker Megan Plourde led the Rams back from a 2-0 deficit against No. 24 Cal State Fullerton.
Plourde recorded eye-popping numbers with a school-record 19 total blocks and a career-high 20 kills, on .528 hitting, as the Rams (26-4) rallied to the improbable victory – 19-25, 20-25, 25-12, 25-21, 15-12 – against the Big West Conference champion Titans (26-6).
“This was a tale of two different matches,” said Head Coach Tom Hilbert. “I think that Fullerton came out playing extremely well, which is what we expected.”
The Titans stunned the Rams early in the contest, committing virtually no hitting errors through the first two sets of the match.
“It was interesting,” added Hilbert. “In the first two sets they had nine in the error column and eight of them were our blocks, which means that they only hit one ball out of bounds. That is extremely good and very high-level.”
The Titans’ near-perfect play sent the Rams into the locker room in an unfamiliar position, trailing 0-2 for just the third time all season. This time, however, the Rams responded defensively to rally for the victory, marking the first time since the 2006 MWC championship contest against No. 9 Utah that the Rams overcame a 2-0 deficit to win.
“I didn’t want to go out on two losses like that,” said Plourde. “We all knew the things we had to change and we came out motivated; we weren’t going to let them win that third set.”
“We have a lot of people that refuse to lose,” added senior outside hitter Danielle Minch, who recorded 13 kills. “We just refused to lose that third set and we knew that if we won, it would totally change the entire match. I think everyone had that confidence and that really helped us.”
Coming out of intermission, the Rams jumped out to a 10-1 lead to open the third set, as senior outside hitter Jacque Davisson served 10 straight points. After a Titans’ ace on the first point, Plourde killed the next ball to give the Rams the serve and added three additional kills and four total blocks during that early run. The Rams went on to win the all-important third set, 25-12.
Fullerton responded by staking to an 8-4 lead early in the fourth set but Plourde once again answered the call. She tallied four kills and a block over the Rams’ next six points to keep CSU within striking distance. Another Plourde kill tied the set at 17-17, and the Rams recorded eight of the next 12 points to tie the match, two games all, with a 25-21 victory in Set 4.
Then, tied 8-8, in a race to 15 in the fifth set, it was junior Katelyn Steffan who helped the Rams separate. Steffan killed the Rams’ ninth point to break the tie and served up an ace on her next attempt. Then, with Steffan still holding serve, Plourde and sophomore Dana Cranston combined for a block to give CSU an 11-8 advantage.
The Titans made a late push before Minch closed the door with her 13th kill of the match, to complete the comeback, 15-12.
The Rams advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive year. They will next face the winner of the first-round match between host Stanford and Albany. That match will take place Saturday evening at 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT.