Volleyball Match Notes: Undefeated Rams set to host 2 matches

Thursday's match vs. second-place New Mexico will be a White Out.

Thursday's match vs. second-place New Mexico will be a White Out.

Nov. 13, 2013

Colorado State Match Notes #15 | New Mexico Notes | Air Force Notes
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Match 24: No. 10 Colorado State vs. New Mexico Lobos - White Out
Thursday, Nov. 14 | 7 p.m. MT | Moby Arena | Fort Collins, Colo.


 

 


Match 25: No. 10 Colorado State vs. Air Force Falcons

Friday, Nov. 15 | 7 p.m. MT | Moby Arena | Fort Collins, Colo.

SCOUTING NEW MEXICO
New Mexico has been consistent this year, and has been rewarded for its effort with a 20-5 record overall. At 10-4 in the Mountain West, the Lobos are tied for second place, trailing just Colorado State.

The matchup between the Rams and the Lobos will see the two best offenses and two best defenses square off against each other. CSU ranks first in the conference with a .298 hitting percentage, while New Mexico is first in the MW, limiting its opponents to just a .146 hitting percentage. On the flip side, the Lobos rank second in the MW with a .242 hitting percentage while the Rams limit their opponents to .153 hitting, also second.

New Mexico ranks fourth in the league with 12.58 assists and 13.40 kills per set. With 2.79 blocks and 15.32 digs per set, the Lobos rank third in the MW in both categories and will provide CSU with one of the toughest defenses it has faced all season.

The Lobos are led by All-MW Preseason Team selection Chantale Riddle. The junior right-side hitter has been a dynamic force for opponents to deal with this season, averaging 4.02 kills, 2.10 digs and 0.99 blocks per set. Riddle is tops in the conference in both kills and points (4.74 per set).

In the back row, senior libero Miquella Lovato helps shore up the defense with 4.66 digs per set, second in the MW, while sophomore middle blocker Skye Gullatt paces New Mexico at the net with 1.28 blocks per set, which ranks fourth.

SERIES VS. THE LOBOS
The Rams lead the overall series against the Lobos, 46-23, and have been especially successful against their Mountain West counterpart at home. When playing at Moby Arena, CSU is 24-8, winning 17 in a row dating back to 1995. Under Head Coach Tom Hilbert, the Rams are 31-3 against New Mexico, and while playing as a ranked team, CSU is 29-5.

In a dramatic match earlier this year in Albuquerque, CSU won the first two sets before come from behind to win Set 5, 15-13. Led by junior middle blocker Kelsey Snider’s 18 kills, CSU finished with four players reaching double digits in kills, including sophomore right-side hitter Adrianna Culbert, who posted a double-double with 12 kills and 14 digs.

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 Snider traveled to China with Gullatt, Lexi Ross and Lobos’ Head Coach Jeff Nelson for the BIP/USA Global Challenge.

WHITE OUT
Thursday's match vs. New Mexico will be CSU's annual White Out, with fans encouraged to wear white. Over the past three seasons, the White Out has been one of the most exciting matches of the year, averaging 6,241 fans per contest. The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a free White Out poster, which can be autographed by the team following the match.

SCOUTING AIR FORCE

The Falcons enter this week’s action with a 6-19 record, including 3-10 in Mountain West play. Air Force begins one of its toughest stretches of the season this week, as it begins a five-match road trip. On the road the Falcons are just 1-8 on the year, and are 0-5 in road matches against conference opponents. The Falcons, though, are coming off a four-set win vs. Boise State over the weekend.

Air Force features one of the youngest teams in the MW, with just two seniors on the roster. Despite victories against three conference teams, the Falcons rank in the bottom three of the MW in five statistical categories (hitting percentage, assists, kills, blocks and digs), and don’t rank higher than seventh in a statistical category.

Sophomore outside hitter Akokwe Clement leads the team with 2.86 kills per set, while Maggie Sherrill, Cami Richan and Ayesha Hein also average more than two kills per set. Junior setter Hillary Keltner paces the Falcons’ offensive attack with 9.84 assists per set, ranking sixth in the MW.

In the back row, junior libero Emma Dridge averages 2.60 digs per set, while sophomore defensive specialist Rebecca Bates is second on the team with 2.49.

SERIES VS. THE FALCONS
The Rams have enjoyed great success against their intra-state foes to the south, leading the all-time series, 40-1. After a loss during the series’ first meeting, in 1982, CSU has rattled off 40 consecutive victories, including a 37-0 mark under Head Coach Tom Hilbert. CSU has swept Air Force in each of the last 18 matches dating back to 2005, and 30 of the last 31. It is believed that CSU’s 40-match winning streak against Air Force is the nation’s third-longest active win streak against a team.

RECORD-SETTING START
With 23 straight victories, CSU is off to a record-setting start. CSU’s come-from-behind win at Utah State (Nov. 2) helped surpass the 2001 squad’s 20-0 start. CSU followed its historic win two more victories last week to improve to 23-0.

“That’s a record that these players deserve all the credit for,” Hilbert said after his team came back from an 0-2 deficit at Utah State. “They’re just good competitors. They have a lot of grit and determination. You can say what you want about our schedule or whatever, but we haven’t lost in 21 matches, and we’ve been in some pretty precarious situations, and that’s pretty neat. I sit back sometimes in awe of this group of players, and the things they continue to do in these tough situations. I don’t think this is me as a coach; I think this particular group has character, and just have it. They have a magical way of competing and doing well in end-games. That’s just these kids; they’re great.”

In 2001, the Rams suffered their initial defeat on Nov. 3 to No. 15 Utah, and finished the year ranked No. 10 with a 29-4 record.

TWENTY-THREE IN A ROW
Not only are the Rams off to their best start ever, but the team’s 23-match winning streak is tied for CSU’s all-time mark, originally established Sept. 20-Dec. 6, 2003. With a win Thursday vs. New Mexico, CSU can set a new record, and a win both Thursday and Friday vs. Air Force, the Rams will set a new Mountain West mark. The current record was set by Utah in 2006.

CSU’s 23-match winning streak is the second-longest active streak in the NCAA. Excluding the Rams’ NCAA tournament loss to No. 22 Purdue last season, they haven’t lost a contest since Oct. 25, 2012, a span of 31 consecutive regular-season victories, a program and active NCAA record.

ANOTHER MILESTONE VICTORY: NO. 600
Considered one of the most successful volleyball coaches in the nation, Head Coach Tom Hilbert earned yet another milestone victory on Saturday: No. 600. Less than a year after celebrating his 400th career win at CSU, Hilbert became the 17th active coach to reach 600 career wins.

Of those currently at 600, none have coached as few of games as Hilbert. He is of 10 coaches in NCAA volleyball history to reach 600 wins and at least a .770 winning percentage.

HILBERT BY THE NUMBERS

  • Record at CSU: 426-104 (.804) - winningest coach in any sport at CSU.
  • Career record: 600-176 - 17th among active coaches in wins.
  • Career winning percentage:     .773 - 10th among active coaches; 15th among all coaches all-time.
  • 16 NCAA tournaments in 16 years in Fort Collins.
  • 237-28 (.894) record at Moby Arena, including 25-12 against ranked opponents.
  • 40 total wins against top-25 teams at CSU, including No. 1 UCLA in 2000.
  • 13 conference coach-of-the-year awards, in addition to three AVCA region coach-of-the-year-honors.

REMAINING UNDEFEATED
Entering the 12th week of the season, CSU is one of two Division I teams to have yet to lose a match, joining Missouri. While this is the best start to a season in terms of wins, it is also the longest in terms of date on the calendar. The latest CSU had previously gone without losing a match was Nov. 3, in 2001.

CSU has never been the only unbeaten team in the NCAA. In 2001, when the Rams were 20-0 in November, Long Beach State was the only other ranked undefeated team. That year, the 49ers went 33-1, with their only loss coming to Stanford in the national championship. In 1999, CSU was one of three ranked unbeaten teams before losing at UNLV on Oct. 16. Hawai’i (finished 29-2, Sweet 16) and Northern Iowa (30-1, Sweet 16) were the other undefeated teams at that point.

STREAKING

  • 31 straight regular-season victories (program record; longest active streak NCAA)
  • 23 consecutive wins (program record; second-longest active streak in NCAA)
  • 19 straight home wins (fourth in CSU history; third-longest active streak in NCAA)
  • 15 consecutive true road wins (program record)
  • 17 straight wins away from Moby Arena during the regular season
  • 21 straight Mountain West victories


ON THE CUSP OF A FIVE-PEAT
With a 14-0 start to Mountain West play, CSU is on the cusp of doing something accomplished just once before: win five straight regular-season conference championships (also 2000-04).

CSU opens the week with a four-match lead on second place, and can earn at least a share of the title with wins on both Thursday and Friday. If CSU can win both matches and Fresno State loses, the Rams will win the title outright and advance to their 19th consecutive NCAA tournament.

Entering 2013, just three other schools have won their respective conference title in each of the last four seasons (Albany, 5, America East; Dayton, 4, Atlantic 10; and Hawai’i, 18, Big West in 1995 and 2012, WAC from 1996-11). Of those teams, CSU is the only team currently leading its conference.

COLORADO DOMINATION
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. The Rams have also beat Denver (Sept. 10, 3-1) and Air Force (Sept. 26, 3-0) this season, with both victories coming on the road. CSU’s last home loss to a team from Colorado came in 1995 against the Colorado Buffaloes.

In all, CSU has taken 94 of its 114 (.825) all-time matches against teams from its own state, including a 52-5 record (.912) at home.

The Rams’ final regular-season home match against a team from Colorado is Friday, when CSU takes on Air Force. CSU has won 40 straight matches in the series, which is believed to be the third-longest active win streak in a series.

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

A win Thursday would improve CSU’s MW record to 15-0, marking the Rams’ best-ever conference start. Prior to 2013, CSU has started conference season with 14 straight wins one other time, going 14-0 in 2003.

The Rams were 10-0 at the midway point of MW season, marking the sixth time in the league’s 14-year history that CSU has gone unbeaten in the first half of its MW slate.

20 WINS ONCE AGAIN
On Oct. 31 at Boise State, CSU won its 20th match of the season, marking the 19th straight season that the Rams have reached that mark. Nebraska (38 entering 2013), Penn State (36), Florida (22) and Hawai’i (20) are the only teams to have a longer streak than CSU.

With CSU’s win at Wyoming on Nov. 5, the Rams surpassed their 2012 win total (21-8), with seven regular-season match remaining.

NO. 10 IN THE POLL
With two wins last week, the Rams remained at No. 10 in this week’s AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll. CSU was passed by then-No. 11 Nebraska, but jumped ahead of then-No. 9 Minnesota. The Huskers and Gophers swapped positions after Nebraska beat Minnesota on Sunday in Minneapolis.

On Oct. 28, the Rams were selected No. 9 in the nation, marking CSU’s first top-10 ranking since the Nov. 29, 2004 poll.

“We’re in this position because we’re undefeated,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said after the team’s No. 9 ranking. “We have to stay humble and go win the next match. There is no selfishness on this team. No one feels like they have to prove something, they just go out and play great volleyball. That’s how we need to continue to play.”

While it had been nearly a decade since CSU was in the top 10, the program has a strong history of being among the best in the nation. CSU has been ranked more frequently than all but 14 teams in NCAA history, and earned a spot in the top 10 for the 61st total time on Monday, a number that ranks 19th among all programs. All-time, CSU is 422-125 as a ranked team, including 117-23 while in the top 10. The Rams’ highest-ever ranking is No. 3, in 2000.

CSU began the season receiving 15 points in the preseason poll, good for 38th, but with each victory, continued to climb the rankings, cracking the top 25 for the first time on Sept. 16. The Rams peaked at No. 9 on Oct. 28, but fell to No. 10 the week following after Minnesota jumped CSU following a win over then-No. 16 Purdue.

FILLING UP THE GYM
Always known as one of the loudest gyms in the entire country, CSU’s Moby Arena currently ranks eighth nationally, averaging 3,153 fans per contest. The average is on pace to be the highest in program history. Currently, the program’s best attendance average came in 2001, when the Rams averaged 2,846 fans per match. In all, CSU has brought in an average of more than 2,000 fans eight seasons, including each of the last three.

CSU set a season high with 4,801 fans on Oct. 12 (3-0 win vs. Boise State) the 10th-largest attendance figure in program history. Following last Saturday’s win vs. Nevada, which came in front of 4,418 fans, CSU has posted three 4,000-plus crowds this season, the third time in program history (1987, five; 1988, three).

The Rams are one of four teams nationally to rank in the top 10 for both attendance averages and in the AVCA top-25 poll (also Nebraska, Penn State and Texas).

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