Not even freezing temperatures and nearly a foot of snow could cool off the CSU volleyball team.
The Rams defeated San Diego State University 3-0 for their fifth straight win and to retain sole possession of first place in the Mountain West.
â€œWe really came to this game with a lot of focus and knew that a lot was at stake,â€ said junior middle blocker Breion Paige.
SDSU committed more than twice as many errors (24) as CSU did (11) despite racking up nearly as many kills (37-40).
â€œSome of those errors were wanting to do too much, to be too perfect,â€ said SDSU head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. â€œItâ€™s youth and not understanding when to go for it and when not to.â€
SDSU junior middle blocker Andrea Hannasch, who came into the match ranked in the top-10 in the conference in hitting percentage, blocks, points and kills, and finished with only four kills and a negative .214 hitting percentage due to her seven errors.
â€œI donâ€™t understand their use of her when they play us. On film they use her more often and in different ways,â€ CSU coach Tom Hilbert said. â€œI really have a lot of respect for that kid.
Sheâ€™s a good player, and sheâ€™s doing good things for them, but she didnâ€™t tonight.â€
All three were close up to the 20-point mark, but CSU found a way to close in the endgame and pulled out the win.
â€œWe focus a lot on endgame in practice, so we try to do that in every match,â€ junior middle blocker Megan Plourde said. â€œIt was clicking for us tonight. We got on those point runs and just kept going with it.â€ Plourde had one of her best games of the season, picking up eight kills and six blocks. Her fellow middle blocker Breion Paige hit .529 and fired home nine kills while blocking four balls.
â€œPrior to the game, I asked them to be very vocal with Deedra (Foss) and to keep her engaged with them,â€ Hilbert said. â€œWe had very good set distribution despite being out of system a ton.â€
Outside hitters Dana Cranston and Katelyn Steffan each had six kills on the evening, but neither hit more than .200 for the match, primarily due to what Hilbert called hitting â€œgarbage,â€ or hitting out of system with long-distance sets.
â€œ(They) just ham-and-egged it tonight and got enough kills for us to get by,â€ Hilbert said.
The Rams next match is Saturday in Moby Arena against the University of Nevada—Las Vegas. CSU defeated UNLV 3-2 in Vegas in a back-and-forth affair. The Rebels are 11-11 (3-5 MWC) on the season and lost at Wyoming Thursday night.
Thursdayâ€™s win puts the Rams at 15-4 (8-1 MWC) this season and gives them a 2.5 game lead over SDSU in the standings with only four conference matches left before the tournament.
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.