Dec 012011
Authors: Kyle Grabowski

The University of Oregon had Miss Oregon USA Alaina Bergsma, but the CSU volleyball team had Megan Plourde, and she proved to be the difference.

Plourde finished with a team-high 15 kills and 11 blocks to offset Bergsma’s 30-kill, 10-dig double-double as the Rams defeated Oregon 3-2 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Hawaii.

CSU coach Tom Hilbert has stressed the importance of blocking all season, and the Rams delivered, out-blocking Oregon 18 to six and holding the Ducks to a .197 hitting percentage for the match.

“Oregon runs a lot of different options, so most of our blocks were reads where the players prioritize and play on their own, and I was really happy with how they performed,” Hilbert said.

The Rams blocked well in the first set, but lost 26-24 despite leading 23-21 at the end.

“We were in control 75 percent of that set and let it slip away –– I was a little perturbed,” Hilbert said.

CSU bounced back to take the second and third sets 25-21.

Junior outside hitter Dana Cranston scored the decisive point in both sets, with an ace in set two and a kill in set three.

“(Setter) Deedra (Foss) saw the opening for the kill and with the ace I was trying to serve a hard ball and hope for the best,” Cranston said.

The Ducks dismantled CSU in the fourth set 25-15, holding the Rams to an .062 hitting percentage with six hitting errors and four service errors.

“I put some of our reserves in to give players a chance to rest and get their thoughts together so they wouldn’t get anxious going into the fifth set,” Hilbert said.

Prior to the fifth set, Hilbert told his team, “Completely forget about it, brush it off.”

And the Rams responded, taking an early 3-0 lead and never looking back en-route to winning the fifth set 15-10.

“That refocused us. We knew we were going to win the game,” Plourde said. “We didn’t want our season to end.”

With the victory, CSU advances to the second round for the sixth straight year and will face whomever wins the site’s second match between host Hawaii University and the University of Northern Colorado.

“If we play Hawaii, we will have gone though a lot tougher match to get there then they will have,” Hilbert said. “This is a fun place to play, I’m excited about it.”

Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at

Tale of the Tape:

Kills: Oregon – 66, CSU – 54

Blocks: CSU – 18, Oregon 6

Aces: Oregon – 8, CSU – 5

Final Score: CSU – 3, Oregon – 2

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