No. 17 CSU will look to improve to 4-0 in Mountain West play with a win Thursday at Nevada. The Rams swept the Wolf Pack in both matches in 2012.
Oct. 1, 2013
Match Notes #8
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NO. 17 COLORADO STATE AT NEVADA
THURSDAY, OCT. 3, 8 P.M. MT| RENO, NEV. | VIRGINIA STREET GYM (1,000)
The Nevada Wolf Pack host Colorado State with a 2-12 record overall, including 0-2 in Mountain West action. The Wolf Pack are coming off a couple tough road conference matches at UNLV and San Diego State, and are looking to end their five-match losing skid. Nevada hasn't won a MW match in its 17 most-recent tries. Thursday will mark Nevada's first home match since Sept. 6. On the year, Nevada is 1-2 at home, defeating Weber State in straight sets. The Wolf Pack's other win was a five-set neutral-court victory over Montana.
Nevada is led by preseason MW Player of the Year candidate Tessa Lea'ea, who leads the team in kills (2.94 per set), blocks (1.26) and points (3.29). Her blocks-per-set average ranks fourth in the MW and is 54th nationally.
Lea'ea is complemented by sophomore right-side hitter Sam Willoughby, who ranks second on the team with 2.45 kills per set. As a team, Nevada averages 10.26 kills, 12.38 digs and 2.12 blocks per set.
SERIES VS. THE WOLF PACK
All-time, CSU is 3-2 against Nevada, including a pair of sweeps in 2012. In those two matches, setter Deedra Foss executed CSU's offense to perfection. She tallied 12.00 assists, 1.50 digs and 0.83 blocks per set, as the Rams hit .342 combined in the two meetings. CSU didn't allow Nevada to score more than 18 points in six total sets last year, and the win in Reno on Oct. 27 initiated CSU's current nine-match road winning streak.
CSU vs. Nevada series history
- Overall: 3-2
- Under Hilbert: 2-1
- In Reno: 1-0
- While ranked: 0-1
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.
- Live Stats: Online statistics will be provided for all matches this season. Stats for Thursday's match can be accessed here.
- Twitter: As always, CSU's athletic department will tweet live updates and results from the CSU Rams Gameday Twitter account: @CSURamsGameday.
With 12 straight wins, CSU is off to its best start in more than a decade. The 12-0 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.
TWELVE IN A ROW
Not only are the Rams off to their best start since 2001, but the team's 12-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 20 straight wins.
Entering the sixth week of the season, CSU is one of four Division I teams to have yet to lose a match, joining Missouri, North Carolina, and Washington.
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 year, 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, and this past week, CSU improved to 6-0 on the season away from Moby Arena, with wins at Air Force and New Mexico.
Dating back to Oct. 27, the Rams have now won nine straight true road matches, the longest streak since CSU won 11 in a row in 2003.
MOVIN' ON UP
After a pair of road victories last week, the undefeated CSU volleyball team moved up to No. 17 in this week's AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll, climbing two spots. The national ranking is CSU's highest since Sept. 5, 2011.
After a 12-0 start to the season, the Rams have steadily climbed the poll each week, receiving votes the first three weeks before cracking the top 25 two weeks ago.
All-time, just 14 teams have been ranked more frequently than CSU, which has been voted into the top-25 poll 238 times in its history. CSU is to 413-125 all-time as a ranked team, including 234-28 at Moby Arena.
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. After two weeks of conference play, CSU and UNLV are the only two unbeaten MW teams.
ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN
Head Coach Tom Hilbert was pleased to see the success his team had in non-conference play, going a perfect 9-0. However, he has stressed repeatedly that the importance of those matches was to prepare his team for its 20-match Mountain West slate, which began last began vs. Wyoming on Sept. 18 (W, 3-0).
"We want to win the Mountain West," he said. "I think everything leading up to conference play was just that. We know that by winning the Mountain West we will go to the NCAA tournament."
In 14 seasons with the Mountain West, CSU has led the charge by a large margin, winning 10 regular-season conference championships in addition to five MW tournament titles in nine seasons. CSU has finished first in the regular-season standings each of the past four years, leading wire-to-wire from 2009-11.
Entering its match vs. Nevada this week, CSU has won six consecutive road conference matches and 17 straight at home -- which dates back to the final regular-season contest of the 201 season. What's more, CSU has won 46 straight home matches against current members of the MW -- a streak dating back to 2005.
AMONG THE BEST IN THE NATION
As one of the top teams in the country, CSU also is putting up some of the top numbers in the country. The Rams continue to move up in several team and individual categories in the latest NCAA statistical report, released Monday. For more details, see Page 6 of the PDF.
CSU leads the Mountain West and ranks seventh in the nation with a .308 attack percentage. In the season opener vs. Baylor, CSU posted a hitting percentage of .529 (53-7-87), good for fifth-best all-time. Seven times in the young season CSU has hit above .300, including four matches in a row from Sept. 7-11. Three of the figures rank in the top-10 in the MW this season.
"We're a young team, but we're playing with more maturity as an attacking team than we did all last year, without a doubt," Head Coach Tom Hilbert said after CSU's win vs. Missouri State on Sept. 11. "Our error percentage has been really, really good; if the season ended right now this might be the most clean we've played ever."
In addition to high attacking numbers, CSU ranks second in the MW in opponent hitting percentage, holding its opponents to .172 hitting, including under .100 twice. No team has hit better than .250 against CSU, and the Rams have been out-hit just once this season, but still earned the victory (at New Mexico on Sept. 28).
In 1987, CSU hit .800 (45-5-50) in a win at Loyola Marymount. The mark is not only a CSU record, but still stands as an NCAA record 26 years later.
Not only are the Rams attacking with great efficiency and at a high rate, but they're also receiving a balanced attack. Despite ranking No. 4 nationally in kills, CSU's leading attacker (Adrianna Culbert, 3.26 kills per set) ranks No. 8 in the Mountain West, and none rank in the top 250 in the nation. Five different CSU players have led the team in kills in a match, with all five averaging at least 2.30 kills per set.
The biggest question entering fall camp -- and even entering the season -- was who would step up on the outside to replace last year's production.
"I knew our middle attacking would be good this year," Head Coach Tom Hilbert said, "but we're having some players step up and become some pretty solid attackers."
Perhaps the biggest reason for early success that Head Coach Tom Hilbert has noted is his team's ability to win close sets. Through 12 matches, 19 sets have been decided by five points or fewer; of those, the Rams have won 17.
Against Wyoming on Sept. 18, 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. In a five-set win at New Mexico (Sept. 28), CSU won sets by scores of 27-25 and 15-13.
SERVING UP ACES
Fort Collins native Kaitlind Bestgen ranks second in the Mountain West and 59th nationally with 0.40 service aces per set, including five vs. Virginia (Sept. 6) and four at Air Force (Sept. 26) --on both instances, Bestgen had four aces during 7-0 CSU runs. Her five-ace match against the Cavaliers 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 0.33 aces per set, tied for fourth in the MW.
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