For the last several weeks, the No. 9 Colorado State volleyball team has been lacking that spark it had for the first half of the season. In an attempt to bring some life to the CSU offense, Hilbert changed up the lineup, adding freshman Alexandra Poletto to the court.
It’s safe to say it paid off.
Behind a big afternoon from Poletto, CSU rolled over New Mexico 25-20, 18-25, 25-18,25-19 Saturday afternoon at Moby Arena.
In her second career start, Poletto led the offense early with four kills on six swings in the first set, hitting .333. Poletto continued to be a go-to hitter throughout the matching, finishing with 11 kills, three digs, and six blocks.
“She was a presence out there. I don’t think (New Mexico) expected it,” Hilbert said of Poletto. “She has a high contact point and a fast arm. It made a huge difference for us tonight.”
Poletto has been benched for a majority of the season due to injury, after Hilbert told her yesterday she would be making the start, she knew she was ready for the challenge.
“It was exciting, “Poletto said. “I’ve been injured for too long, in my opinion. I was ready to go, I’ve been working really hard trying to get my timing back. I was done sitting on the bench and It was a really great experience.”
Despite the Rams dominating the Lobos in set one, New Mexico came fought back at the start of set two.
The Lobos took the lead early on and held on to it. Preseason All-American outsider hitter Chantale Riddle took off with four kills along with Cassie House who had three. While New Mexico hit .211 in set two, CSU gave away several points with eight service errors and six attack errors, three unforced.
Headed into the break, CSU came back with the reset button pushed. The Rams took control of the lead early on and held onto it. Poletto and Culbert each had four kills in the third set along with Jasmine Hanna who racked up three.
“I was very pleased. We bounced back after the second set, we played great in the third and we overcame a deficit in the fourth. All of these are competitive experiences that are good for this team to go through, and I’m really pleased,” Hilbert said.
CSU went on to close out New Mexico in the fourth set with 17 digs, three service aces and 13 kills spread out between Poletto, Culbert, Hanna, Kelsey Snider and Marlee Reynolds.
“We need matches like this. The NCAA tournament is going to be like this,” Hilbert said. “”As hard as sometimes they are to sit through and they’re a grind and I’m sitting there and I’m as nervous as anybody, but when your team is playing with intensity and passion and getting after it and making defensive plays and watching and focusing and talking and doing all the things they’re supposed to do, you’re going to do well in these situations.”
Collegian Sports Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @haleighhamblin.