In a weekend filled with adversity, CSU was able to complete its conference schedule with a win over the University of New Mexico in five sets (19-25, 25-14, 25-19, 22-25, 15-11).
After attacking at just .093 with seven errors in the first set, the Rams were able to minimize mistakes in their next two sets while relying heavily on their middle blockers.
Brieon Paige led the attack for the Rams, tallying a team-high 16 kills in the match, while fellow middle blocker Megan Plourde led the team with 20.5 points.
â€œThey were great,â€ CSU coach Tom Hilbert said of his middle blockers. â€œOur outsides have not struggled in that whole run where we won all those sets in a row, and now people are starting to figure them out a little bit.â€
Following the loss in the first set, CSU committed just five total errors in sets two and three combined, winning both comfortably. In the fourth set, however, New Mexico gave the Rams all they could handle.
CSU jumped out to a 20-17 lead in the set, but failed to stop an 8-2 run, which gave New Mexico the set and forced a decisive fifth set.
â€œSet four, I thought we had control of a lot of it,â€ Hilbert said. â€œBut it came down to end-game and we didnâ€™t do well.â€
The Rams were unable to close out the set because of 11 team errors, and a combined .000 hitting percentage.
The fifth set featured five tie scores, but the Rams never trailed while hitting .308 with only one error, compared with .207 and three for New Mexico.
CSU won seven of the last 10 points in the set, and completed the back-and-forth affair with 15-11 victory.
â€œIt really came down to who can compete the hardest,â€ Paige said. â€œ(The win is) really important for us and itâ€™s really going to help us for our next games we play on the road.â€
The win marks the end of the conference schedule for the Rams, and the last match before the Mountain West Championships next weekend in New Mexico.
Closing out matches on the road has been a focal point for the team, as the rest of the scheduled matches for the Rams are on the road.
â€œDefinitely it was an important game for us,â€ freshman Deedra Foss said. â€œEspecially because weâ€™re going to be back here next weekend for the tournament, so itâ€™s good to end this road trip with a win.â€
CSU is the No. 1 seed in the MW Tournament, and will take on No. 8 Air Force Academy in the first round next Friday.
Volleyball Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at email@example.com.
About the match
Number of sets: 5
Tie scores: 37
Lead changes: 11
Result: CSU wins (19-25, 25-14, 25-19, 22-25, 15-11)