CSU hasn’t lost to UNC in volleyball since 1982.
The Colorado State University women’s volleyball team continued that trend, and their hot start to the season, defeating the University of Northern Colorado 3-1 Tuesday night in Greeley.
In CSU’s first game on the road, they found themselves in a crowded UNC gym. This loud and hostile atmosphere was something the Rams have not seen yet this year. “We had two games at home and no one was yelling in your ear, no one is yelling and trying to distract you,” senior Cassidy Denny said.
Amidst this unwelcome environment, Denny started the match off strong by earning an ace off of the first serve of the match, helping the Rams to take an early 8-4 lead and forcing UNC to take a timeout in an attempt to slow the pace of the game. CSU’s energy stayed high as they maintained the lead to take the first set, 25-16.
Entering the second set, the Ram’s failed to play with the precision of the first. Miscommunications on CSU’s side of the net, coupled with UNC’s offensive intensity put the Rams in a tough situation. After two CSU timeouts, The Ram’s recovered from a 7 point deficit and brought the game 22-21, but lost the next 3 rallies. This 25-21 loss marked the first set lost on the Rams’ season.
In the third set, the Rams took back control. A long and exciting rally opened the third set, with Alexandra Poletto ending it with a kill. Sanja Cizmic took the lead of the attack with 7 kills in the third set, helping the Rams take a 12-7 lead before UNC took their first timeout of the set. The Rams continued their offensive push, tallying up 16 kills by the end of the set.
The Rams ended the game in a great defensive stand with 6 blocks and 21 digs in the fourth set, 25-12.
The defense of the last set is what CSU head coach Tom Hilbert wanted to see from the team.
“It’s the third match in a row we prepared very well, that leads to good blocking and that set the tone for this match right from the beginning,” Hilbert said. “We could have been a little more physical than them in a couple positions, but we blocked the ball really well.”
Cassidy Denny exemplified the defensive play that Hilbert expects from the team.
“This was one of the best matches I think I have seen her play,” Hilbert said. “She was so locked in and engaged.” Denny earned 25 digs throughout the match to help CSU earn its third win of the season.
CSU volleyball will travel to Santa Barbara, California this weekend for three games against Baylor, Pittsburgh, and UC Santa Barbara.
Collegian sports reporter Jack Starkebaum can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org