The Colorado State women’s volleyball team came into their match against the Nevada Wolfpack off of their third straight five set win over San Diego State on Thursday and they did everything in their power to avoid that number becoming four. The Rams swept the Wolfpack on Saturday afternoon for the second time this season 25-11, 25-21, 25-18.
The win keeps CSU (19-7, 13-2 Mountain West) atop the Mountain West with Boise State as the Broncos also won Saturday to tie the Rams at 13-2 in the conference.
The Rams’ offense was clicking on all cylinders in the first set against the Wolfpack. They had multiple large runs, most notably a 5-0 run that gave them a 21-9 lead, highlighted by two kills by junior Sanja Cizmic.
Cizmic would go on to lead the team in kills for the set with four while freshman Kirstie Hillyer had six blocks, one of which ended the first set with the help of junior Jasmine Hanna. Freshman Katie Oleksak had two service aces in the set as well to round out the Rams complete domination of the set.
The Wolfpack would not go down that easily however, as the second set came with six ties and five lead changes. Nevada had a four point lead at 14-10 as the Rams at one point were hitting a negative .071 for the set. Miscommunications between senior Cassidy Deny and freshman Olivia Nicholson, in which both players would freeze going for the dig because they thought the other was going to do it, led to some easy points for the Wolfpack.
But as this young Rams team has done all season, they would work through their mistakes and find a way to make it work, except this time they would not wait five sets to do it. They went on a 5-1 run to take the lead 16-15 off of a kill by Hillyer and then with the score tied at 19, Hanna took over as she had back to back kills. Two points later she had a solo block to give the Rams a 23-20 lead that would lock down a second set win.
The third set started out a little shaky as it was tied at four early on, but once again Hanna would set the tone with another solo block to give the Rams the lead and Oleksak had her third service ace of the match on the next point. A 4-0 run to go up 14-7 led to a Nevada timeout but it would not matter much as Hillyer went to work at the net with two blocks in the Rams last six points and Cizmic had six kills, including the last two coming as the final points of the match.
The Rams hit .368, including a .452 in the final set while holding the Wolfpack to just a .106 hitting percentage for the match. Blocking was also a large plus for the Rams, as they racked up 14.5 of them in just three sets.
Junior Alexandra Poletto was the most efficient Ram as she went nine for 11 on attacking for a .818 hitting percentage. Cizmic lead the way in kills with 12 while Hanna was right behind her with 11. Hillyer finished her dominate day at the net with 11 blocks and Nicholson pitched in seven blocks as well.
Serving was up and down for the Rams as they were able to smack five aces but sent seven of them into the net as service errors. And once again, Oleksak rocked the stat sheet with 36 assists.
All eyes will be on the Rams in their next match as they travel to Boise to take on the Broncos in what will be the biggest match of the season so far. The winner will have sole possession of first place in the Mountain West and will control their own destiny as either team would have to win their last two matches to secure first place.
The only match between these top teams this season gets underway Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. MT.
Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ajwrules44