No. 18 CSU headed into its second match of the day knowing UC Santa Barbara was going to be an athletic team with versatility on the outside and in the middle. However despite 12 ties and five lead changes in the first set alone, CSU took control to sweep the Gauchos 25-23,25-18,25-16, earning its second win of the season in less than six hours.
“It was a good match, hard fought. I like the way we played and I like the way we competed,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “I thought our serve receive was good, I thought our defense was pretty good and in the end those things get you through the tough parts of matches and I thought we did that tonight.”
The Rams faced the Gauchos last season during the Pepperdine Invitational where the game went to four sets. With UC Santa Barbara’s best player out on an injury, it was expected that this year’s team would be better than ever. While outside hitters for the Rams shined in their first game of the against VCU, CSU showed its own sense of versatility in the middle which ended up being the deciding factor in Saturday night’s match.
“Some of that has to do with the teams you are playing and how they are playing you,” Hilbert said. “It shows we have some balance.”
CSU’s ability to finish set one was led by seniors Deedra Foss and Kelsey Snider at the net, as the CSU offense outpaced UC Santa Barbara’s 14 kills with 17 of their own. Heading into set two and three of the match, the Rams took control off the net and were able to shut down Gauchos attackers Taylor Britton, Ali Barbeau and Jaylen Villanueva.
With Hilbert subbing in several first year players into the line-up throughout the game, Foss got the ball to Jamine Hanna who had six kills on the night and Alexandra Poletto with three though Kelsey Snider was the go-to player on the night.
“Kelsey(Snider), they could not stop her in any of the zones she was hitting in,” Hilbert said. “That is good for us. When we play teams like that where she has an athletic match up we need to take advantage of it.”
Snider ended the night with 13 kills on 18 attempts and her five blocks helped the Rams to control the middle of the court.
“Yeah, we knew had the athletic advantage over them (UCSB) especially with Kelsey (Snider), and we took advantage of that and Kelsey did great,” Foss said.
The Rams have had a increased level of competition with each passing game, leaving Sunday’s championship matchup against Marquette to be the real test of CSU’s ability. CSU will take the court for its final game of the Rams Classic Sunday at 1p.m. and its first matchup in program history with the Golden Eagles.
Collegian Sports Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @haleighhamblin.