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Match notes: Rams begin home conference slate

CSU looks to pick up two conference wins this week, as the Rams Nevada and San Diego State.

Sept. 26, 2012

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Rams vs. Wolf Pack – The Matchup
Sept. 27, 2012 | 7 p.m. | Moby Arena (8,745) | Fort Collins, Colo.

Nevada comes into Thursday’s match at 4-10, but the Wolf Pack is riding a hot streak. Nevada has won its previ¬ous three matches, including a five-set victory over Texas Tech and a conference-opening win against San Diego State.

The Wolf Pack will look to disrupt the Colorado State attack with the play of its middle blockers up front. Nevada is led by redshirt sophomore Tessa Lea’ea, who ranks 17th in the nation in blocks per set (1.44) and third in the Mountain West. Lea’ea also ranks fifth in the conference with 3.85 points per set and eigth in the league in kills per set (3.02). She is this week’s MW Volleyball Player of the Week.

Junior setter Dana Holt paces Nevada with 8.81 assists per set, good for fifth-best in conference. The Wolf Pack again will provide a tough time with the serve for the Rams, as Nevada boasts two players, Grace Anxo (0.33) and Kelly Chang (0.32), who rank in the top five in the Mountain West in service aces per set. Senior middle blocker and rightside hitter, Janelle Batista, return this year after leading the Pack in kills and points, and finish¬ing in the top 10 in the WAC last year in both categories. This year, Batista brings another threat with her serve, averaging 0.22 service aces per set, as well as ranking second on the team in kills, blocks, and points.

Nevada is coached by Ruth Lawanson, who is in her second year with the program. This is the first year that the Wolf Pack has been part of the Mountain West.

Nevada leads the all-time series over the Rams, 2-1, winning the last meeting, 3-0, in Fort Collins, back in 2002.

Rams vs. Aztecs – The Matchup
Sept. 29, 2012 | 1 p.m. | Moby Arena (8,745) | Fort Collins, Colo.

San Diego State (8-5) comes into the week being ranked preseason No. 2 in the Mountain West. The Aztecs, however, lost their conference opener to Nevada last week.

San Diego State returns senior middle blocker Andrea Hannasch, who was an honorable mention AVCA All-American last year after leading the Aztecs in kills, points, blocks and hitting percentage. Hannasch is a two-time All-Mountain West selection, and again leads the Aztecs in points (3.33 per set) and service aces (0.24), as well as being ranked second on the team in in blocks (1.10). Junior middle blocker Emily Harris has stepped up in her role this year to provide the Aztecs with a great one-two punch from the middle. Harris leads the team and is second in the conference in hitting percentage (.361), and also leads the team and is fifth in the Mountain West in blocks per set (1.22).

This year, San Diego State has used three different setters in extended time with all of them averaging at least 4.50 assists per set. Kristie Jackels anchors the Aztec defense in the back with 3.43 digs per set,and is one of two Aztecs to average more than two digs per set.

The Aztecs are coached by Deitre Collins-Parker who spent time as a coach at Cornell and a player at Hawai’i prior to taking over the volleyball program at San Diego State in 2009.

Colorado State leads the all-time series over the Aztecs, 32-14. Dating back to 2003, the Rams have won the last 21 matches, and own a 29-1 record while being coached by Tom Hilbert. CSU has not lost at home to the the Aztecs since 1996, and boasts a 15-5 overall record at Moby Arena against San Diego State.

How to follow along
• Live Stats: Online stats will be provided through Gametracker. A link for live stats can be accessed through the volleyball schedule page.
• Video: CSU offers a subscription for live video streaming for all home matches. For more information, or to subscribe, visit www.CSURams.com/AllAccess.
Audio: All home CSU matches, and select road matches, can be heard locally on 90.5 FM and worldwide at www.KCSUFM.com.
• Twitter: As always, CSU’s athletic department will tweet live updates and results from the CSU Rams Gameday Twitter account: @CSURamsGameday.

Top of the Mountain
In 13 seasons with the MW, CSU has led the charge, winning nine regular-season conference champion¬ships, in addition to five MW tournament titles in 10 seasons. No other current MW team has taken home a regular-season conference title. Utah won or shared three crowns during its 12 seasons with the confer¬ence, while BYU won or shared a pair of champion¬ships.

Dominant in MW home openers
While the Rams dropped their conference opener, they will look to rebound at home on Thursday. What’s more, they’ll come into Thursday’s conference home opener riding a 15-match win streak in such contests. CSU’s last conference home opening loss was in 1996, to Fresno State.

Overall, CSU is riding an eight-match home winning streak against conference teams, which dates back to CSU’s loss to Utah on Nov. 24, 2010. The Rams’ most recent home loss to a current member of the Mountain West was all the way back in 2005, when UNLV defeated CSU.

Starting strong
The Rams dropped a five-set decision last Thursday to open up Mountain West action. It marked just the second time in 14 years that CSU has lost its Mountain West opener. In all, the Rams have won at least their first four matches 10 times, including a 14-0 record in 2003.

First again
On Aug. 14, the Moun¬tain West announced the preseason rankings, and again, the Rams were at the top of the list, as CSU was tabbed to win its fourth consecutive conference title. CSU received eight of the nine first-place votes (Wyoming earned the other one) from a panel made up of the nine MW head volleyball coaches.

“It seems like we’re always in this situation,” CSU Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “It’s a target on our back. These girls are used to playing with that pres¬sure. They know that everybody gets fired up when they play us. It requires that we go out and play with excellence every night, because we’re going to get every Mountain West team’s best every time we play them. As an athlete, you should want that.”

In all, CSU has been the preseason favorite each of the last three seasons—and four of the last five—and has won nine regular-season titles in addition to five tournament trophies.

Senior CLASS Award top 30
Dana Cranston is among 30 NCAA Division I senior women’s volleyball student-athletes named to the 2012 Senior CLASS Award candidate class. The award honors student-athletes who excel both on and off the court, having notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

Two other MW student-athletes—San Diego State’s Andrea Hannasch and Wyo¬ming’s Jodi Purdy—were also chosen. From the list of 30 candidates, a national media committee will select 10 finalists for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award in Octo¬ber. Those 10 names will then be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote. Fan balloting will be coupled with votes from coaches and media to determine the recipient of the award. The Senior CLASS Award winners will be announced during the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship, which will take place December 13 and 15 in Louisville, Ky.

Home cooking
The Rams’ incredible success at Moby Arena is nothing new to those who follow the program. Since Head Coach Tom Hilbert arrived in 1997, CSU has gone an impeccable 218-28 (.886) on its home court. The Rams won 11 of their 12 home matches in 2011, ranking ninth in school history for home winning percentage (.917). In fact, CSU has won at least 10 home matches each year dating all the way back to the 1995 season.

Moby was rockin’
On Sept. 15, the Rams welcomed the No. 2 team in the country to Moby Arena, coming within a few points of the biggest upset in Moby Arena history. A total of 5,641 fans witnessed the near-upset, which ranked as the fourth-largest crowd in program history.

In all, three of the top four single-match at¬tendance figures have oc¬curred in the last three years. On Sept. 2, 2011 a Mountain West-record 6,750 fans watched CSU upset No. 5 Nebraska. The previous record was also held by CSU, when the Rams beat the Duke Blue Devils, Aug. 26, 2010, in front of 6,333 fans.

The Last Meeting
Colorado State0
September 20, 2002
Fort Collins, Colo.
The Last Meeting
San Diego State0
Colorado State3
October 27, 2011
Fort Collins, Colo.
Volleyball recap: Rams sweep second-place Aztecs
In a battle between the top two teams in the Mountain West, the Colorado State Rams showed why they are on top, sweeping the San Diego State Aztecs at Moby Arena Thursday night.



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