Match notes: No. 22 CSU set to face SEC power Texas A&M

Looking to cap an undefeated non-conference schedule, No. 22 CSU will host SEC power Texas A&M Saturday in an Aggies-vs.-Aggies Orange Out at Moby Arena.

Looking to cap an undefeated non-conference schedule, No. 22 CSU will host SEC power Texas A&M Saturday in an Aggies-vs.-Aggies Orange Out at Moby Arena.

Sept. 19, 2013

Match Notes #6 | Tickets
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ORANGE OUT - Colorado A&M vs. Texas A&M

Saturday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m.| Fort Collins, Colo. | Moby Arena (8,745)

SCOUTING TEXAS A&M
The Aggies of Texas A&M come into this highly anticipated contest against the Rams at 7-2 overall, with both losses coming against ranked opponents. Texas A&M is ranked No. 26 in the nation, earning the most points in the ‘Receiving Votes’ category of the latest AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll.
 
Texas A&M will have been idle for eight days entering Saturday’s contest, but it will mark the third straight match against a ranked opponent for the Aggies. Last week, the Aggies swept then-No. 16 Florida State before falling in five sets to No. 7 Michigan. With a 2-1 record, the Aggies won the Texas A&M Invitational due to a tiebreaker scenario. Texas A&M is 2-0 on the road this season, defeating North Dakota and UTSA.
 
Texas A&M’s offense features two strong sophomore outside hitters. Angela Lowak is a dynamic player who leads the team with 3.61 kills on .263 hitting, while also providing nice versatility with 2.06 digs per set. Sierra Patrick is second on the team with 3.53 kills per set on .311 hitting, providing a great one-two punch with Lowak.

A&M’s senior leadership comes from its setter, Allie Sawatzky. Sawatzky, who had a triple-double in A&M’s loss to Michigan last Friday, has done a little bit of everything, averaging more than 2.00 kills and 2.50 digs per set, while leading the team with 10.06 assists. In 2012, she was an AVCA All-America Honorable Mention selection.

As a team, the Aggies rank No. 10 in the NCAA in assists (13.76 per set) and No. 11 in kills (14.79 per set). While their offensive numbers have been impressive, the Aggies prove that they are not a one-dimensional team as they rank No. 21 in the nation in digs, with 16.94 per set.

On defense, Texas A&M is led by senior libero Kelsey Kinley, who averages 4.00 digs per set, and freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers, who averages 1.18 blocks per set. Babers was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week this past week after recording 1.82 blocks per set in three matches.

The Aggies are coached by veteran Laurie Corbelli. In 20 seasons in College Station, Corbelli is 531-308, including 431-202 at A&M.  She has directed the Aggies to 16 NCAA tournament appearances and 14 20-plus win seasons. Along with LSU, Texas A&M was the co-favorite to win the SEC West in 2013. A year ago, A&M won the SEC West and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

SERIES VS. THE AGGIES
Colorado State leads the overall series over Texas A&M, 5-2, but the two programs have not faced each other since 2006.

    •    Overall: 5-2
    •    While ranked: 3-0
    •    In Fort Collins: 2-1
    •    Under Hilbert: 1-1
    •    Last meeting: Texas A&M defeated CSU, 3-1, at Moby Arena
    •    Against the SEC: CSU is 11-4

HOW TO FOLLOW:
• Video: The remainder of CSU’s matches — both home and away — will be streamed free of charge through the Mountain West Network.
• Audio: KCSU will broadcast Saturday’s Orange Out, as it does for all home matches and select road events. Tune in to 90.5 FM locally or www.KCSUFM.com worldwide to listen to the call.
• Live Stats: Online statistics will be provided through Gametracker.
• Twitter: CSU’s athletic department will tweet live updates and results from the CSU Rams Gameday
Twitter account: @CSURamsGameday.

ORANGE OUT
Colorado State will honor its Aggie heritage on Saturday for an Aggies-vs.-Aggies clash. Formerly the Colorado A&M Aggies, CSU’s jerseys will represent the school’s original colors of pumpkin and alfalfa. The Rams are 3-0 in Orange Out matches, sweeping all three contests. Fans are encouraged to join the team in wearing orange to the match.

STARTING HOT
With nine straight wins, CSU is off to its best start in more than a decade. The 9-0 record is the fourth-best start in program history. A win Saturday would improve the Rams’ mark to 10-0, tying the 1993 team for third-best. The program’s best-ever start came in 2001, when the squad won its first 20 contests before suffering its initial defeat, to No. 15 Utah on Nov. 3. That year, the Rams completed the season 29-4 and ranked No. 10 in the year’s final poll.

NINE IN A ROW
Not only are the Rams off to their best start since 2001, but the team’s nine-match winning streak is the program’s longest since winning 13 straight from Sept. 24-Nov. 6, 2010.

REMAINING UNDEFEATED
Into the fourth week of the season, CSU remains undefeated on the year.. As of Thursday afternoon, CSU is one of eight Division I teams to have yet to lose a match, joining American, Buffalo, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio State, Washington and Washington State.

PERFECT IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY?
A win Saturday not only would extend the Rams’ undefeated record to 10-0, but it would also mark just the second time in CSU’s 38-year history that the Rams have gone undefeated in non-conference action. Currently, the 1999 team, which finished 13-0 in non-conference play, is the only team to win every non-league match. The 1999 Rams went 30-3, setting a program record for winning percentage (.909).

BACK IN THE TOP-25 POLL
After a perfect 8-0 start to the season, the CSU Rams are back in the AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 poll, ranked No. 22 in this week’s poll. It is CSU’s highest ranking since Sept. 26, 2011, when the Rams were ranked No. 21. The complete poll can be found on Page 3.

All-time, just 14 teams have been ranked more frequently than CSU, which has been voted into the top-25 poll 236 times in its history. However, this is the first time CSU has been ranked since the second week of the 2012 season, when the Rams were No. 24 after starting at No. 25 in the 2012 preseason poll. CSU received votes several other weeks throughout the 2012 season, and has steadily climbed the rankings in 2012 — 38th in the preseason poll, 31st in Week 2 and 26th in Week 3 — before cracking the rankings.

After a win Wednesday, CSU improved to 410-125 all-time as a ranked team, including 233-28 at Moby Arena.
 
BACK-TO-BACK MW PLAYER OF WEEK HONORS
For the second straight week, a CSU student-athlete was named the Mountain West Women’s Volleyball Player of the Week.

On Monday, the league named right-side hitter Adrianna Culbert this week’s selection after averaging 5.29 kills and 3.00 digs per set on .523 hitting. In a four-set victory at Denver on Sept. 10, she tallied a career-high 23 kills, the most by a MW player this season and most by a CSU athlete since November 2011. Her 23 kills came on .512 hitting, as she committed just two errors on 41 swings. In the match, Culbert also led the team in aces (3) and digs (14) — her third consecutive double-double. The following night, playing Missouri State, Culbert had a team-high 14 kills on .542 hitting, a career high.

One week prior Deedra Foss was named the MW Player of the Week (Sept. 9) after helping the Rams to a 4-0 week, including the Pepperdine Invitational championship. Foss averaged 12.07 assists, 2.60 digs, 0.67 kills, 0.47 aces and 0.47 blocks per set on the week, earning tournament MVP honors. Against UC Santa Barbara, she tallied a double-double with 53 assists, 13 digs, four kills, four blocks and two aces.

BORDER WAR BULLIES
Separated by less than 70 miles, the rivalry between CSU and Wyoming goes back to 1976, the Rams’ first year as a program. The Rams have played the Cowgirls more than any other opponent, and have had great success over the years. On Wednesday, CSU improved to 60-19 all-time against its neighbors to the north, including 32-2 under Head Coach Tom Hilbert. What’s more, Hilbert has never lost to Wyoming at Moby Arena (17-0).

GETTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
Winners of four straight Mountain West championships, CSU began its conference-title defense on Wednesday, sweeping Wyoming in three tight sets. The Rams have won 17 consecutive conference home openers, dating back to 1997, Head Coach Tom Hilbert’s first at the helm of the Rams.

END-GAME SUCCESS
Perhaps the biggest reason for early success that Head Coach Tom Hilbert has noted is his team’s ability to win close sets. Through nine matches, 13 sets have been decided by five points or less; of those, the Rams have won 12.

On Wednesday vs. Wyoming, the Rams and Cowgirls were tied at 20-20 each set—including 23-23 in Set 1 and 22-22 in Set 2. The Rams ended each set with a run, however.

SERVING UP ACES
Fort Collins native Kaitlind Bestgen ranks second in the Mountain West with 0.42 aces per set, including five vs. Virginia (Sept. 6)—including four during a 7-0 CSU run. It marked just the third time since 2009 that a Ram has had five aces in a match, and as a team, CSU’s 11 aces was the most since November 2011.

In addition to Bestgen, Adrianna Culbert and Deedra Foss each are averaging 0.35 aces per set, tied for fourth in the MW.

More notes.


 

 

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