With a key conference battle on the line, the CSU volleyball team came through exactly the way it needed to in order to keep hope alive for a fourth consecutive MW title.
CSU played host for fellow second placed MW rival UNLV in Moby Thursday night for the annual Orange Out game. Each team had their chops wet going into the match as both were only a half game behind first placed San Diego State.
The Rams moved closer to a conference title with a 3-0 victory over the Rebels 25-17, 25-16 and 25-22.
Thursday’s results resembled the Oct. 14 matchup between the two when CSU had a dominating sweep in Las Vegas to pick up their first road win.
“We did a better job here of defending their outside hitters here than we did in Las Vegas but they still caused us some problems,” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said. “We had eight giveaway points out of the first 11 that they got.”
Both teams struggled with unforced errors in the first set as UNLV gave up five and CSU one-upped them with six.
Neither team recorded a block in the set, but the Rams were able to counteract their errors with 16 kills.
Senior outside hitter Dana Cranston picked up five of them, including a full-blast swing to close out the set.
Cranston credits her teammate Deedra Foss, who had a stellar performance with 36 assists, for the team’s success.
“When she has nights like this, it’s a lot easier for us because we have bigger holes in the block or can go one-on-one,” Cranston said. “Her working hard at that just rockets our team to a whole new level.”
The second set was unlike the first, which saw 11 tie scores and four lead changes. CSU grabbed the early lead at 3-2 and took it all the way to the finish, leaving the Rebels to watch the Rams dominate the set 25-16, with a .412 hitting percentage.
The third set featured UNLV’s best effort of the match. The Rebels were finally able to post a decent hitting percentage with .268, but it ultimately proved insufficient when CSU put the match to rest at 25-22 in the third.
“This is definitely a momentum builder for us,” senior middle blocker Megan Plourde said. “Now we just have to finish strong in the rest of our games. Playing really good all around is a big confidence builder.”
Thursday’s clutch MW victory for CSU now has it sitting alone at the No. 2 spot in the conference with a record of 16-7 (9-3 MW) and left UNLV to fall to third with 16-9 (8-4 MW) title.
CSU’s next match is another MW battle with Fresno State at home Saturday. The Rams lost once already on the road to the Bulldogs when playing them in their home gym in Fresno.
The Rams will be looking for redemption Saturday, and Cranston has a message for the Bulldogs: “Welcome to Moby.”