Oct. 26, 2011
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No. 25 Colorado State Rams
Record: 15-4 (8-1 MW)
AVCA Ranking: 25
Head Coach: Tom Hilbert
Record at CSU: 373-94
Sets Played: Three players (66)
Kills/Set: K. Steffan (3.95)
Assists/Set: D. Foss (10.83)
Aces/Set: D. Foss (0.33)
Digs/Set: I. Gaulia (4.36)
Blocks/Set: M. Plourde (1.56)
Points/Set: K. Steffan (4.71)
Last week’s recap
Carrying over the momentum from the week prior, the Rams continued to roll past their opponents, sweeping Boise State and Air Force in two road matches. On Thursday, in its first ever trip to Boise, CSU started off hot—converting nine of their first 10 hits into kills to take an early lead—and never cooled down, sweeping the Broncos by scores of 25-15, 25-17 and 25-16. Dana Cranston, Katelyn Steffan and Tori Brummett led the offense, combining for 24 kills on .489 hitting (24-1-47). The trio also recorded three blocks, in addition to Megan Plourde’s team-high six. As a team, the Rams hit .383, and held the Broncos to .092 hitting.
Two days later, CSU extended its win streak to 36 straight wins over Air Force, last falling in 1982. What’s more, the Rams have taken 43 consecutive sets over the Falcons, last dropping a set in 2004. Plourde was the team leader in kills (7) and blocks (7), while Samantha Peters, who entered the match with three blocks on the season, impressed everyone with six block assists, in addition to four kills. The Rams recorded season highs in both blocks (15.) and service aces (eight), and forced the Falcons to hit more errors than kills (-.043).
Match 20: San Diego State Aztecs
Thursday, 7 p.m. MT
The conference standings are starting to take shape, and right behind the Rams are the San Diego State Aztecs. San Diego State enters competition this week at 13-6 on the season, including 6-2 in MW play, a 1.5-game separation between first and second place. The Rams beat the Aztecs on Oct. 2, in San Diego, but since, San Diego State has dropped just one match (at then-No. 16 San Diego), winning five of its last six.
As a team, the Aztecs, led by third-year head coach Deitre Collins-Parker, rank second in kills (13.50 per set), just ahead of CSU. They have five players who average more than two kills per set, highlighted by 6-2 middle blocker Andrea Hannasch’s 2.97 average. Raegan Shelton (2.88), Summer Nash (2.39), Kyley Sexton (2.27) and Paije Pearson (2.05) are the team’s other offensive weapons. Of the group, Hannasch, a junior, is also the leader in hitting percentage, at .327, including a conference-leading .408 during MW action.
The Aztecs lead the conference in service aces (1.34 per set), and rank second in assists (12.42 per set) and third in blocks (2.34 per set). Hannasch is also the team leader in blocks, averaging 1.21 per set, which ranks second behind Plourde. Sophomore setter Johnna Fouch, who has recorded eight double-doubles on the season, leads the conference, and ranks 28th nationally, with 11.07 assists per set.
Record: 13-6 (6-2 MW)
AVCA Ranking: NR
Head Coach: Deitre Collins-Parker
Record at SDSU: 43-37
Series: CSU leads, 31-14
Sets Played: J. Fouch/K. Jackels (74)
Kills/Set: A. Hannasch (2.97)
Assists/Set: J. Fouch (11.07)
Aces/Set: K. Sexton (0.32)
Digs/Set: K. Jackels (3.91)
Blocks/Set: A. Hannasch (1.21)
Points/Set: A. Hannasch (3.86)
Series vs. San Diego State . . .
• The Rams come into Thursday’s match vs. the Aztecs winning 19 straight, last falling to SDSU in 2002.
• Overall, CSU holds a 31-14 advantage over SDSU.
• CSU is 15-5 over SDSU on its home court, last falling to the Aztecs in Fort Collins in 1996.
• The two teams met in front of a national-TV audience on Oct. 2, with the Rams beating the Aztecs, 3-1.Katelyn Steffan had 18 kills on .385 hitting, followed by Dana Cranston’s double-double (11 kills, 11 digs).
• The Rams and Aztecs played in the first round of the 1983 NCAA Tournament, with SDSU sweeping CSU in San Diego.
• CSU’s 600th and 700th wins as a program both came vs. SDSU.
• In five career matches against the Aztecs, junior Megan Plourde has recorded 49 kills and 30 blocks on .378 hitting.
Match 21: UNLV Rebels
Saturday, 1 p.m. MT
The Rebels sit at 11-11 on the season, and in the middle of the MW standings at 3-5. Since falling to CSU in five sets on Sept. 29, UNLV is 3-4, most recently beating Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday in five sets. Makenzie Moea’I, a sophomore middle blocker, is the team’s top attacker, averaging 2.84 kills per set. Sophomore middle blocker Madeline Westman also averages 2.20 kills per set on a team-best .299 hitting, and is the conference’s fifth-best blocker at 1.06 blocks per set.
The Rebels rank fourth in the MW in blocks (2.24 per set) and third in digs (14.23 per set). Stephanie Thelen (9.13 per set) ranks fifth in the conference in assists, while Daryn Glenn (0.29 per set) is in the top five for service aces. Cindy Fredrick is in her first season leading the Rebels.
Record: 11-11 (3-5 MW)
AVCA Ranking: NR
Head Coach: Cindy Fredrick
Record at UNLV: 11-11
Series: CSU leads, 27-6
Sets Played: Three players (90)
Kills/Set: M. Moea’i (2.84)
Assists/Set: S. Thelen (9.13)
Aces/Set: D. Glenn (0.29)
Digs/Set: A. Davies (3.14)
Blocks/Set: M. Westman (1.06)
Points/Set: M. Moea’i (3.12)
Series vs. UNLV . . .
• CSU holds a 27-6 record against UNLV all-time, and has also won six consecutive dating back to 2008.
• Led by Katelyn Steffan’s career high 28 kills and Deedra Foss’ 60 assists, the Rams beat UNLV in five sets on Sept. 29 in Las Vegas.
• CSU is 14-1 all-time against UNLV at Moby Arena, sweeping the Rebels 10 times. The Rams’ only home loss to UNLV came in 2005 (3-1).
• Last season at UNLV, Dana Cranston recorded a double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs. In their last two matches against the Rebels, Brieon Paige has combined for 21 kills on .375 hitting, while Tori Brummett has posted a career-high eight kills each time. Since the start of 2010, Megan Plourde has combined for 38 kills on .334 hitting, including 10 kills and six blocks last month in Vegas.
With eight teams in the conference, the MW has brought back the end-of-season tournament for the first time since 2007. The three-day tournament will be played Nov. 18-20, in Albuquerque, N.M. The Rams have won four of the eight prior conference tournament championships, more than any other team, and hold an 18-4 all-time record in the tourney. The winner will receive the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Tickets are on sale with the all-session package (seven matches) just $30 ($24 for seniors, $12 for students).
Back in the polls
After just two weeks, the Rams have regained their positioning in the AVCA Top 25 Coach’s Poll, earning the No. 25 ranking in the latest poll, released Monday.
CSU fell out of the polls on Oct. 10, after suffering a five-set loss at Wyoming on Oct. 8. It was the first time in nearly two years (Nov. 2, 2009), that the poll did not feature CSU in the top 25. The Rams earned 56 votes each of the weeks they were unranked, before earning 89 points on Monday.
Nebraska, which CSU beat on Sept. 2, is the new No. 1 pick, after the Huskers took down previously unbeaten and top-ranked Illinois in four sets last Saturday. Nebraska’s lone loss on the season came to CSU.
How sweep it is
Since falling in a heartbreaking defeat at Laramie, Wyo., on Oct. 8, the Rams have failed to drop a set, winning a season-most 12 consecutive sets.
For years, Moby Arena has been known as one of the hostile venues for opposing teams to play in. Now only does the arena produce big crowds, but the team on the court produces big wins, at a high rate.
In 14-plus seasons under Hilbert, the Rams are 208-27 (.885) at Moby, including 24-11 against nationally ranked teams. With two wins this weekend, the Rams can record their 10th win of the season on their home court. Dating back to 1995, CSU has recorded at least 10 home wins each season.
Even more impressive, however, is the fact that CSU is playing just 12 games at Moby Arena this year, its fewest total in nearly two decades. The last time the Rams played so few home matches was in 1983, when just seven of the team’s 39 matches were played in Fort Collins.
The Rams have won the first set of a match 15 times this season, and the first two on 14 occasions. The match at Wyoming on Oct. 8 marked the first time this season that the Rams have lost after leading 2-0. They are 13-1 overall.
Best in the West
Entering Thursday night’s match against San Diego State, CSU ranks in the top half of the Mountain West each statistical category except digs (fifth), including first in hitting percentage (.284) and blocks (2.95 per set).
It comes as no surprise that the Rams are the conference’s best blocking team, and rank ninth nationally, as they have two of the best blockers in the conference in juniors Megan Plourde and Brieon Paige. Plourde, who holds the conference’s best single-match blocking performance when she recorded eight blocks on two occasions, ranks fifth in the nation with 1.56 blocks per set. Paige ranks ninth in the MW (sixth in MW matches) with 0.91 blocks per set, while Katelyn Steffan (0.81) is just outside the MW top 10.
Steffan, who has led the Rams in kills 14 times this season, ranks first in both kills (3.95 per set) and points (4.71 per set), and is sixth in service aces with 0.29 per set. Her kill and point averages rank 57th and 29th nationally, respectively. Setter Deedra Foss also is first in service aces (0.33) and second in assists. Her 10.83 assists-per-set average ranks 39th in the nation.
Paige and middle blocker Tori Brummett also rank fifth and seventh in attack percentages, while defensive specialist Izzy Gaulia is fourth (second in MW action) with 4.36 digs per set. As a team, CSU has the sixth-best hitting percentage in the nation (.284).
The Rams take pride in their ability to out-block their opponents, and in 2011, it’s no different. CSU has recorded more blocks than its opponent in 16 of its 19 matches, going 14-2 in those situations. CSU is also 1-0 when tying with its opponent in blocks. Nationally, the Rams rank ninth in the country with 2.84 blocks per set. Junior Megan Plourde, who averages 1.56 per set, ranks fifth in the country, and finished 2010 ranked second.
The Rams have recorded double-digit block totals 12 times this season, including a season-high 15 at Air Force last Saturday.
Defending the attack
The Rams lead the MW with a .314 hitting percentage in conference matches (.284 overall; sixth nationally), but also rank first in opponent hitting percentage in conference matches, allowing their conference opponents to hit just .136 on them. This past weekend, both opponents (Boise State and Air Force) hit under .100, while Air Force recorded more errors than kills, hitting in negative digits (-.043). Overall, CSU opponents have hit below .100 six times, and have hit above .250 just once.
Coach Hilbert continues to stress the importance of the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index), which is one of the key factors in determining teams for the NCAA tournament. The season’s second RPI was released on Monday, with CSU at No. 42.
Conference foes TCU (55), San Diego State (94) and New Mexico (99) also were ranked in the top 100. Also in the top 75 are six non-conference opponents: Nebraska (2), Oklahoma (21), Wichita State (45), New Mexico State (52), Middle Tennessee (53) and Arkansas (67).