Oct 232011
 
Authors: Andrew Schaller

The Rams have started the second half of their conference schedule the same way the first half began –– with convincing wins.

On Saturday, CSU finished its weekend road trip with a win at the Air Force Academy in three sets (25-16, 25-13, 25-19).

“What I really liked was our service pressure, and our blocking stayed solid the whole (match),” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said. “That’s really what allows us to get the kind of separation that we’re getting.”

The match completes a stretch of four straight conference matches that the Rams have won in straight sets.

CSU was able to dominate Air Force by posting a season-high 15 blocks and recording eight service aces as a team.

“I think blocking did a lot for us,” said junior opposite hitter Dana Cranston. “We put a lot of service pressure on them too, which helped us a lot.”

By using service pressure and blocking effectively, the Rams were able to hold Air Force to a -.043 hitting percentage on the match, the lowest for a CSU opponent this season.

Cranston led CSU in a hitting percentage at .714 and recorded five kills on the match, to go along with two aces, two digs and a block.

Junior middle blocker Megan Plourde also had a big match, leading CSU with seven kills and seven blocks.

Production from Cranston and Plourde was key in the match, as senior opposite hitter Katelyn Steffan, the leader in the Mountain West in kills, posted only two on the match.

Plourde expressed the need for CSU’s other hitters to step in and do their job when Steffan’s numbers are down.

“I think that when that happens, we just feel like we need to step up and take care of the things we need to take care of, just so it doesn’t just fall on one person,” Plourde said.

CSU will now return to Fort Collins to face San Diego State University, the second place team in the conference.

“We play the second best team in the conference on Thursday night,” Hilbert said. “We have full intention of playing our best and winning that match.”

The Rams will be looking to extend their current 1.5 game lead over SDSU, but realize that the match will likely not come as easily as their last four.

“Well, we’re playing well, but we haven’t been in tight enough matches since Wyoming,” Hilbert said. “We’ve swept every match we’ve played, and I know that’s good, but we need to be ready for, I think a battle on Thursday night.”

Volleyball Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

Result: CSU def. Air Force Academy (25-16, 25-13, 25-19)

Up next: San Diego State University

When: Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m.

Where: Moby Arena

Coverage: 90.5 fm KCSU

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