Wednesday’s 26-24, 25-14, 25-14 sweep improved the Rams to 27-2 (15-1 MW) though CSU still isn’t satisfied. The Rams will look to clinch the MW title outright for the sixth-consecutive season with a victory over Nevada Saturday.
“I think that we are all really excited about it, I mean it is a co-clinch and we do want it ourselves,” senior Marlee Reynolds said. “We do have two more matches to play, Nevada has a really good middle and Wyoming is always really tough. It is cool that we won but let’s focus on the two matches that we have left and then let’s celebrate on Wednesday.”
San Jose State came out in set one strong as the Spartans disrupted the Rams with an impressive drop serve as well as a couple of pivotal kills in the opening points. San Jose State took an 8-3 lead before CSU began to pick up speed.
“They had good short serves, those are called droppers,” CSU head coach Tom Hilbert said. “I had to ask Cassidy (Denny) at the end of the match when she came out, ‘Are those really good or are we just being lazy?’ because I couldn’t tell. Some people have been doing that to us in the second half of conference and they are all going to do that … we need to work on it.”
Able to disrupt the Rams on serve receive and force them out of its comfort zone when setting up the attack, San Jose was within a point of taking set one. Trailing 24-23, the Rams came back with a Reynolds kill followed by another by Jaliyah Bolden and an attack error by the Spartans.
The Rams hung on by the skin of their teeth but it was enough to take the lead 1-0. From that point on, San Jose struggled to communicate and get the momentum going, dropping set two and three by 11 points each.
With senior middle blocker Kelsey Snider out with a concussion, head coach Tom Hilbert relied on his young players to pull some of the weight.
“The biggest thing on my mind was don’t mess up,” Bolden said. “I just wanted to make sure that I was doing everything Kelsey (Snider) would do. I didn’t want anybody to miss a step and to function well as a team.”
Hilbert started Bolden with the initial thought of her hitting behind the setter. Bolden scored the first two points of the match with a kill followed by a block, and she went on to control the middle hitting .462 on eight kills and four blocks.
“Jaliyah had a good match, I am happy for these younger middles, they are putting up some good numbers and now we got to move on,” Hilbert said.“We are moving on against a team where one of the middles they are playing is a really, really physical opposing player … we are going to have to be really good at blocking.”
Collegian Sports Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @haleighhamblin.