GREELEY â€“ Colorado State volleyball put in its most dominant performance of the season Tuesday night, sweeping Northern Colorado 3-0.
UNC came into the night riding an eight-match home winning streak, but the Rams quickly threw the Bears out of rhythm with excellent defensive
work, derailing UNCâ€™s attack.
â€œUs blocking them was obviously a key,â€ said coach Tom Hilbert. â€œWe got them out of rhythm because of what we were doing blocking. We caused problems for them, and thatâ€™s a really good thing to see from this team.â€
Colorado State University came out strong in the first set winning it 25-19, effectively quieting down the crowd of 2,235 assembled at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
And the Rams only got better from there.
CSU was dominant the rest of the way, winning sets two and three 25-16 and 25-14, respectively.
The Bears started the match with impressive credentials â€“â€“ they were 12-3 coming in and had won 11 out of their last 12 matches. Their offense is built around sophomore Kelly Arnold, who came into the match leading the team with 206 kills.
Defending Arnold was a key to the Rams preparation and they were able to effectively shut her down, limiting her to nine kills while shooting .000 for the match. Arnold finished with as many attacking errors as kills, a testament to the Ramsâ€™ defense.
CSU junior Evan Sanders gave credit to team members who got the starters ready to take on the Bears.
â€œThey did a great job of preparing us in practice,â€ Sanders said of the scout team.
The preparation led to a dominant defensive effort for the Rams. CSU had 15 blocks and held UNC to negative numbers in shooting percentage. The Bears ended the game shooting -.044.
The Rams were disciplined in their blocking assignments, and that led to a stream of errors from UNC.
â€œWe were really on our blocking assignments tonight,â€ Sanders said. â€œWe have to give ourselves credit with the blocking job we did, because I think we did well in shutting them down.â€
The score might reflect a win over an over-matched opponent, but UNC is no slouch. The Bears went 21-12 last year and reached the NCAA Tournament sub-regional in Fort Collins.
The Rams, ranked No. 18 in the country, were able to flex some muscle on the road to reassert that they are the dominant team of the region.
â€œItâ€™s one of our rivalry games and it feels good to beat them like this,â€ said sophomore Megan Plourde.
With the win, CSU moves to 12-2 on the season. The Rams now move back into Mountain West Conference play with a match Thursday against San Diego State at Moby Arena.
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.