Seniors Jaime Colaizzi, Adrianna Culbert, Alex Reid and Crystal Young finished out their decorated careers with a bang Saturday in Moby Arena.
The senior duo of Culbert and Colaizzi helped No. 12 Colorado State (26-3, 17-0 MW) take down Iowa State (18-9, 11-5 Big 12) for their 19th consecutive win in an action packed five sets. Culbert came two kills from notching another triple double, finishing with 29 assists, 14 digs, and eight kills. Colaizzi finished with nine digs.
“I couldn’t ask for a better ending,” Colaizzi said of her final game at Moby. “Had that game gone the other way I still couldn’t imagine a better way to end. The crowd was great, we played great. I’m really proud of how we performed.”
The Rams completed their undefeated run in conference in play Tuesday night with a victory over Wyoming. Iowa State came into Saturday’s match after finishing third in the Big-12 this season. The Cyclones provided stiff competition for CSU, something that will likely benefit them going into NCAA Tournament play.
“It gives us another match so we don’t have a full week of not competing,” Culbert said. “To compete against one of the better teams in the nation that plays great competition all the time is great for us.”
ISU won the first set 26-24 behind the hitting of redshirt junior Morgan Kuhrt who tallied eight kills. The Rams stormed back to dominate the second set 25-10. They held the Cyclones to a .036 hitting percentage and hit .458 themselves. Culbert dished out seven assists while Jasmine Hanna had four kills and the Rams delivered four service aces.
The Cyclones then returned the favor by winning the third set 25-23 after six ties and three lead changes.
Once again the Rams rallied to win the fourth set 25-19 behind four kills apiece from Alex Reid and Alexandra Poletto. Acacia Andrews chipped in another three kills as the Rams hit .385.
CSU then clinched it in a back and forth fifth set. The Rams took a 13-12 lead on a huge kill by Sanja Cizmic. Hanna then blocked a Cyclone attack attempt to send the game to match point where Cizmic combined with Andrews on the game-clinching block.
The Rams were balanced on offense, with five different players reaching double digit kills. They also recorded 14 blocks, many of which came at pivotal moments. At this point in the season health is a concern for many teams. However, according to head coach Tom Hilbert, fresh legs appears to be an asset as they approach the tournament.
“Everybody is pretty healthy,” Hilbert said. “We’re playing athletic and we matched up physically with that team (Iowa State) and they’re a very athletic, physical team. I’m very pleased with that.”
The win pushes CSU’s win streak to 20 consecutive wins. The team has not lost since a Sept. 21 exhibition contest versus Shanghai (China). Excluding that exhibition, the Rams have won 20 straight games and have not been defeated since Sept. 15 when they lost a close one on the road at Texas A&M.
NCAA tournament play begins with the first and second round match ups commencing Friday.
“I just wanted to have a good competitive match to get us ready for the NCAA tournament,” Hilbert said. “It was exactly what we needed.”
CSU will find out who and where they play when the tournament match ups are revealed Sunday night at 7 p.m.