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 Bergsmaâ€™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.
â€œOregon 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,â€ Hilbert said.
The Rams blocked well in the first set, but lost 26-24 despite leading 23-21 at the end.
â€œWe were in control 75 percent of that set and let it slip away â€“â€“ I was a little perturbed,â€ 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.
â€œ(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,â€ 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.
â€œI put some of our reserves in to give players a chance to rest and get their thoughts together so they wouldnâ€™t get anxious going into the fifth set,â€ Hilbert said.
Prior to the fifth set, Hilbert told his team, â€œCompletely forget about it, brush it off.â€
And the Rams responded, taking an early 3-0 lead and never looking back en-route to winning the fifth set 15-10.
â€œThat refocused us. We knew we were going to win the game,â€ Plourde said. â€œWe didnâ€™t want our season to end.â€
With the victory, CSU advances to the second round for the sixth straight year and will face whomever wins the siteâ€™s second match between host Hawaii University and the University of Northern Colorado.
â€œIf we play Hawaii, we will have gone though a lot tougher match to get there then they will have,â€ Hilbert said. â€œThis is a fun place to play, Iâ€™m excited about it.â€
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.
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