The No. 20 CSU volleyball team continues to defend its undefeated Mountain West record, and now sits at a three game lead atop conference standings after a 3-0 sweep of Boise State (25-20, 25-21, 33-31).
The Rams (16-3, 9-0 MW) went head-to-head with the Broncos (14-7, 6-3 MW) in the third set, with CSU eventually finishing off the set 33-31, and the match.
Head coach Tom Hilbert was nothing but impressed with not only his team’s performance against the Broncos but also the Rams mental toughness throughout the entirety of the match.
“You know, our team had to really be mentally tough today,” Hilbert said. “They came back from a huge deficit in the first set and then fought them off in the third set to win that one 33-31… This was the most mentally tough my team has been all year.”
Much like in the first meeting with Boise State, the Rams didn’t get out to a hot start. The initial points of the match would not lead one to think the Rams would beat Boise, let alone do it in a sweep. CSU was trailing the Broncos 13-4 in the first set but came back to win it 25-20.
“I think we just started playing our kind of volleyball,” Hilbert said. “We stopped making mistakes, we used our physicality, started playing defense and once we started scoring points they sort of succumbed to it a little bit.”
Playing the Broncos in Boise, Idaho put a lot of pressure on CSU, and forced the Rams to show their resiliency.
“It was a very difficult environment to play in,” Hilbert said. “It’s a small arena but they had a lot of people. This was loud. They’re right on top of you.”
In a back-and-forth third set, the difference came down to one thing: blocking.
“We needed to block,” Hilbert said. “We were putting good service pressure on them, so we were taking away first swings but we needed to block balls. And we got two stuffs in the end of (point) 31 and point 33. That was a critical, critical time to get stuff blocked.”
Acacia Andrews had four blocks against the Broncos. Alexandra Poletto ended the match with a solo block, finishing with two in total.
“Well it’s a tough road win, you know,” Hilbert said, “and we have got four more of these. There are good teams in the Mountain West, there are four more road matches that will be just as difficult as this one. And we need to realize that and be ready to play with this same kind of mental toughness against all those opponents.”
Leading the team tonight in kills was Adrianna Culbert who achieved her seventh triple-double of the season with 14 kills, 20 assists and 10 digs.
“She just continues to be great,” Hilbert said. “She was also leading very well tonight too.”
Due to a concussion for Jasmine Hanna the Rams’ rotation was slightly different tonight, which ultimately led to more coverage done by Culbert.
“Julia Cubbedge played, did a great job, we moved Sanja (Cizmic) to the left and (Culbert) had to sort of manage a whole lot going on out there on the court,” Hilbert said.
The change in formation worked fine for the Rams tonight considering the outcome against Boise was a sweep, rather than a narrow win in five sets for the Rams like in their first meeting, which happened just one month ago at Moby Arena.
“We were able to put more service pressure on them and force them to go their outside hitters and we actually do a good enough job with their outside hitters,” Hilbert said. “We forced them into some errors that they don’t normally get in.”
The Rams remain undefeated in MW play. They also remain on the road and will continue to defend their lead atop the conference at Utah State Saturday at 7 p.m.
Collegian Sports Reporter Pia Myers can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ByPiaMyers.