No. 14 Colorado State (5-1) wrapped up the CSU/UNC Tournament with a sweep of Northern Colorado (2-4) by scores of 25-18, 25-14 and 25-21.
The Rams had a little extra help as they were joined on the sideline by honorary teammate Sara Robinson, who the team adopted back in March through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation.
“It was awesome and she was so excited,” senior Adrianna Culbert said. “It was amazing just to see her light up. It’s an incredible feeling.”
“It’s awesome to just see her loving every second of it,” senior Jaime Colaizzi added. “That way, you know we really do have an impact on her.”
The first set got out to a fairly even start before the Rams eventually ran away with it thanks in part to UNC’s four service errors. The Bears finished the match with nine in total.
CSU was also imposing defensively at the net recording 11 blocks in the match, including four in the first set. The team also recorded 58 digs, which gave the Bears little room to put balls in play.
“We nullified their outside hitting, but I thought we got the middles at pretty critical times,” CSU head coach Tom Hilbert said. “I think it’s important for us to get blocks on some of the slide attacks.”
The second set was a little less competitive as the Rams pulled away early. Another UNC service error ended the set 25-14 in CSU’s favor. Hilbert credited his team’s mature play for its success.
“We played pretty cleanly,” Hilbert said while looking over the final stats. “Three aces, three errors, 11 errors total, nine unforced out of 102 attempts. So that’s really a pretty good number to play at. Then we blocked pretty well.”
Photos: Abbie Parr
The third set went a bit differently as the Bears jumped out to a 9-5 lead causing Hilbert to take a timeout. After the timeout, repeated UNC errors helped CSU climb back in the set. CSU eventually reclaimed the lead on a block by Alexandra Poletto to go up 14-13.
Video highlights by Olivia Landis CTV 11
The Rams kept the pressure on the Bears until a kill by Culbert finally put the match away. The match point also gave her a game-high 10 kills to go along with her 13 assists and 11 digs, making her the fifth player in CSU history to record multiple triple-doubles in a season, and the first to do so in 3-set matches.
“I think (Coach) Tom might have known,” Culbert joked when asked if she knew during the game that she was approaching a triple-double. “He was like, ‘set Dri the ball!’ I was like, well, there’s a reason.”
Up next, the Rams go on the road for the first time this season in what should be the most difficult stretch of their schedule.
CSU takes on Iona in Austin, Texas Sunday at 9 a.m. in the first game of a doubleheader. Later that day at 2 p.m., the Rams play No. 4 Texas, the team that eliminated them from the NCAA Tournament last season, on the Longhorns’ homecourt.
Then on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., CSU plays at No. 25 Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
Collegian Sports Editor Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @emccarthy22.