Oct. 22, 2011
By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.--The Colorado State Rams had no problem against the Air Force Falcons Saturday afternoon, winning in front of an overflow crowd of 1,022 at Falcon Court at East Gym in straight sets (25-16, 25-13, 25-19).
With the win, the Rams (15-4, 8-1 MW) have beaten the Falcons (3-19, 0-9 MW) 36 consecutive times dating back to 1982, and have won 43 straight sets since 2004. Overall, CSU has swept four consecutive matches, setting a season high with 12 consecutive sets won. Their previous high came during the team's first nine sets of the season.
"It's good to get this win and sweep this road trip," Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. "We got to play a lot of people, which is good. Our hitting percentage went down as the match progressed, but our service pressure and our blocking were good the entire match."
One of the main differences between the two teams on Saturday was CSU's ability to block. The Rams, who lead the MW and rank 14th nationally in blocking, recorded a season-high 15 blocks, compared to Air Force's three.
The Rams were led by junior middle blocker Megan Plourde's (ninth nationally in blocking) seven blocks. Sophomore Samantha Peters, who had recorded three total blocks this season entering Saturday, shattered her career numbers with six blocks. Freshman Deedra Foss and sophomore Tori Brummett also combined for five blocks each.
"Meg is so good instinctively," Hilbert said. "She's telling me what's going on a lot of times. She just knows what to do."
The Rams recorded eight service aces on the day, and hit .246, compared to Air Force's -.043--a season low for a CSU opponent.
Plourde also led the Rams in hitting with seven kills on .357 hitting. Junior Dana Cranston recorded five kills on .714 hitting, with all five kills coming in the first set. Peters and redshirt freshman Kelsey Snider also had four kills, while Foss posted three.
Air Force got the first three points of the match to take a 3-0 lead, but couldn't string together three consecutive points again in the set, and only did so once more in the match (23-18 in Set 3). Katelyn Steffan put CSU on the board with a monster kill, and with Izzy Gaulia serving, the Rams put up four more points, including a service ace, to take a 5-3 lead. The Falcons kept it close, however, until the Rams took five straight to turn a one-point lead into a 15-9 advantage. The closest Air Force got from there was at 18-14, but CSU responded with five consecutive points again to put things away for good, winning the first set, 25-16. The Rams made a combined nine errors in the set, but hit .429, while holding the Falcons to .069 hitting.
In the second set, CSU never trailed. Leading 9-7 midway through, the Rams secured 18 of the final 24 points to win the set, 25-13. CSU held Air Force to -.129 hitting, and despite only recording six kills in the set, the Rams added to their block total with five, in addition to two service aces.
Hilbert used a different lineup in the third set, with Marlee Reynolds, Peters and Brummett--all players who did not start the match--in the starting rotation. Air Force forced a one-point set at 9-8, but the Rams responded with five of the next six point to widen the gap and take the set, 25-19.
"It's good to get these other guys in and get them reps," Hilbert said, "and I thought I saw some good things. Sam Peters had a real nice match offensively and defensively."
With the win, the Rams now hold a 1.5-game advantage over second-place San Diego State, who is idle the rest of the weekend. The Rams and Aztecs meet up Thursday at Moby Arena in a match with major conference implications.
"Because San Diego State's in second place, it's going to be a big one," Hilbert said. "They'll be fired up. We need a big crowd and need to get a win to separate first and second place."