Match notes: No. 19 Rams look to continue undefeated ways on road

CSU looks to remain undefeated this week, traveling to Air Force and New Mexico.

CSU looks to remain undefeated this week, traveling to Air Force and New Mexico.

Sept. 24, 2013

Match Notes #7
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SCOUTING AIR FORCE
The Falcons enter this week’s action with a 3-10 record, including 0-1 in Mountain West action. After 10 contests away from Falcon Court at East Gym, Air Force has played three straight home matches, going 1-2. The team’s top win came against Long Beach State. The Falcons also beat Navy and UC Riverside, and have fallen to Denver, New Mexico and then-No. 8 Stanford. Air Force features one of the youngest teams in the MW, with just two seniors on the roster. Sophomore outside hitter Akokwe Clement leads the team with 2.73 kills per set, while fellow sophomore outside hitter Maggie Sherrill also averages more than two kills per set. Junior middle blocker Ayesha Hein averages 1.96 kills per set while hitting at a .364 clip, and also posting 0.50 blocks per set. In the back row, junior libero Emma Dridge paces the team with 3.15 digs per set, while junior setter Hillary Keltner is second on the team with 2.85. The Falcons provide a tough test for the Rams in the serving game. Air Force ranks fourth in the conference with 1.29 service aces per set and has five different players averaging at least 0.21. As a team, the Falcons average 11.40 kills and 13.83 digs per set.

SERIES VS. THE FALCONS
The Rams have enjoyed great success playing their foes to the south, leading the all-time series, 39-1. After a loss during the series’ first meeting, in 1982, CSU has rattled off 39 consecutive victories, including a 36-0 mark under Head Coach Tom Hilbert. CSU has swept Air Force in each of the last 17 matches dating back to 2005, and 29 of the last 30. Against Air Force, setter Deedra Foss has averaged 10.40 assists per set over five matches, while Jaime Colaizzi had a career-most two aces and nine digs at Air Force last November. Junior Kelsey Snider has had some strong showings against the Falcons, including seven kills on .538 hitting, in addition to five blocks, in a win vs. Air Force in 2011.

SCOUTING NEW MEXICO
The Lobos boast a 10-1 overall record (1-0 MW) and have played dynamite defense so far this season. New Mexico is riding the momentum of a nine-match win streak into its match Thursday vs. Wyoming, followed by Saturday vs. CSU. At home, the Lobos have been tough to stop, winning all six matches and dropping just two sets. New Mexico is led by All-Mountain West Preseason Team selection Chantale Riddle. The junior right-side hitter has been dynamic this year, averaging 3.80 kills, 2.03 digs and 1.02 blocks per set. Riddle is tops in the conference in both kills and points (4.57 per set). The Lobos have made their mark on defense, though, as they lead the conference with a .099 opponent hitting percentage. The team ranks second in the MW with 2.75 blocks per set and is also second with 15.27 digs per set. While New Mexico is best at holding teams’ hitting percentages to low numbers, the Rams rank first in the league in hitting and kills. Leading the way on defense for New Mexico is senior libero Miquella Lovato. Lovato’s 4.75 digs per set currently places her second in the MW. At the net, senior middle blocker Lexi Ross has caused fits for opposing hitters. Ross is currently third in the conference and top 40 nationally with 1.32 blocks per set. New Mexico is the only other team besides CSU to rank first or second in the MW in three separate categories.

SERIES VS. THE LOBOS
The Rams lead the overall series against the Lobos, 45-23, but have had difficulty playing in Albuquerque, as they have won 17 of 31 matches. CSU has faced New Mexico 33 times while being ranked, and is 28-5 in those matches, including 13-3 in Albuquerque. Last season at the Johnson Center, CSU led the match 2-0 before dropping the final three sets. As true freshmen, Jaime Colaizzi had 10 digs at New Mexico last season, one of three times she reached double digits, while Adrianna Culbert had eight kills at a then-career-most .467 clip in last season’s regular-season finale, a 3-1 victory at Moby Arena. Also in that match, redshirt freshman Kaitlind Bestgen had two service aces. The Rams and Lobos have several notable connections. Over the summer, CSU setter Deedra Foss competed with New Mexico’s Hannah Johnson and Riddle with the USA Volleyball A2 Program, while junior Kelsey Snider traveled to China with Skye Gullatt, Lexi Ross and Lobos’ head coach Jeff Nelson for the BIP/USA Global Challenge.

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 Thursday’s match at Air Force. Tune in to 90.5 FM locally or www.KCSUFM.com worldwide to listen to the call.
  • Live Stats: Online statistics will be provided for all matches this season. Air Force | New Mexico
  • Twitter: As always, CSU’s athletic department will tweet live updates and results from the CSU Rams Gameday Twitter account: @CSURamsGameday.

STARTING HOT
With 10 straight wins, CSU is off to its best start in more than a decade. The 10-0 record is tied for the third -best start in program history. 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.

TEN IN A ROW
Not only are the Rams off to their best start since 2001, but the team’s 10-match winning streak is the program’s longest since winning 13 straight from Sept. 24-Nov. 6, 2010. CSU hasn’t lost a regular-season contest since Oct. 25, 2012, a span of 18 straight wins.

REMAINING UNDEFEATED
Into the fifth week of the season, CSU remains undefeated on the year. As of Tuesday afternoon, CSU is one of seven Division I teams to have yet to lose a match, joining DePaul, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio State, Washington and Washington State.

ROAD WARRIORS
It took the Rams six tries to get their first win away from Moby Arena in 2012, finally posting one at UNLV on Oct. 14, in front of a national TV audience. The 2013 season is off to a smoother start.  After three home wins to start the season, CSU hit the road, picking up three victories in three tries — two on a neutral court and one in a true road environment (Sept. 6-7). Three days later, CSU did it again, defeating Denver in four sets on the road.

Dating back to last November, the Rams have now won seven straight true road matches, the longest streak since CSU won eight straight in 2004. In all, CSU has won 10 of its last 12 overall matches away from Moby Arena — away or neutral. The Rams will look to make it eight in a row on Thursday, Sept. 26 at Air Force.

MOVIN’ ON UP
After a pair of sweeps last week, the undefeated CSU volleyball team moved up to No. 19 in this week’s AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll, climbing three spots. The national ranking is CSU’s highest since Sept. 12, 2011.

After a 10-0 start to the season, the Rams have steadily climbed the poll each week, receiving votes the first three weeks before cracking the top 25 a week ago.

All-time, just 14 teams have been ranked more frequently than CSU, which has been voted into the top-25 poll 237 times in its history. CSU is to 411-125 all-time as a ranked team, including 234-28 at Moby Arena.

BACK-TO-BACK-TO-BACK PLAYER OF WEEK HONORS
For the third straight week, a CSU student-athlete was named the Mountain West Women’s Volleyball Player of the Week. It marks just the fifth time in MW history that a team has earned the award in three consecutive weeks, most recently occurring when the Rams did it in 2008.

On Monday, Samantha Peters was named the MW Player of the Week after helping the Rams to a pair of victories on the week, extending CSU’s undefeated stretch to 10 matches (10-0, 1-0 MW), one of six undefeated teams in the country. In two three-set wins, she averaged 1.83 blocks and 2.83 kills on .412 hitting.

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.

PERFECT IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY
A win last Saturday vs. Texas A&M not only extended the Rams’ undefeated record, but it marked just the second time in CSU’s 38-year history that the Rams have gone undefeated in non-conference action. CSU’s final 19 regular-season matches are against Mountain West opponents. The 1999 team is the only other squad to accomplish the feat, going 13-0 in non-conference play and 30-3 overall, which marked the program’s best all-time winning percentage (.909).

FILLING UP THE GYM
Always known as one of the most hostile gyms in the entire country, CSU currently ranks seventh nationally, averaging 2,927 fans per contest. The average would be the highest in program history if the season ended today. Currently, the program’s best attendance average came in 2001, when the Rams averaged 2,846 fans per match. In all, CSU has averaged more than 2,000 fans per match eight times, including each of the last three seasons.

PERFECT IN COLORADO
With a win over Northern Colorado on Sept. 3, Head Coach Tom Hilbert improved to 40-0 at home against teams from the Centennial State — Air Force, Colorado, Denver and Northern Colorado. CSU’s last home loss to a team from Colorado came in 1995 against the Colorado Buffaloes.

In all, CSU has taken 93 of its 113 (.821) all-time matches against teams from its own state, including a 52-5 record (.912) at home. CSU’s next home contest against a Colorado team will come on Nov. 15, vs. Air Force. The Rams also beat Denver on the road (Sept. 10, 3-1) and travel to Air Force (Thursday).

GETTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
Winners of four straight Mountain West championships, CSU began its conference-title defense on Sept. 18, 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.

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