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UPDATE No. 14 Tennesse hands CSU volleyball second straight loss

Extended point runs by No. 14 Tennessee killed the CSU volleyball team’s chance for an early season statement victory.
The Rams lost 3-2 in the second game of the 2012 Shocker Volleyball Classic, their second consecutive defeat of the year.
CSU carved out an 8-7 lead midway through the decisive fifth set, but the Lady Vols scored the next six points to extinguish any chance of a Rams comeback.
“It’s impossible to survive that,” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said.
Junior outside hitter and reigning SEC Player of the Year Kelsey Robinson powered the Lady Vols’ attack and anchored their defense with a massive 24 kill 18 block double-double.
“We were expecting a lot from her, it’s not a surprise she was getting so many sets and kills,” senior middle blocker Megan Plourde said. “We wanted to slow her down more because we knew that would be a key.”
Late game execution also hurt the Rams, particularly in the third set. CSU led 25-24 on set point, but gave away the ball and Tennessee fired home two aces to win the set and swing momentum decisively in their favor.
Hilbert started true freshman Adrianna Culbert instead of Marlee Reynolds after not giving her much playing time in the season opening tournament.
“It was awesome, I was blown away by how great it was,” Culbert said. “It was great to participate on the team and be out there with the rest of the girls.”
She finished with eight kills, 15 digs and four assists.
“I’m really pleased with how that went, it makes us more functional as a volleyball team,” Hilbert said. “She’s not as good a blocker as Marlee [Reynolds], but is better in every other area and we’re going to continue to go with her.”
The second consecutive loss marks CSU’s first losing streak since last September when the Rams dropped back to back games against Wichita State and Denver.
The Rams did improve their consistency from Friday’s loss to Wichita State. CSU blocked far more effectively, and was able to score a significant amount of points through blocking for the first time this season.
“We physically matched up better with them and their tempo allowed us to get in better position from the set,” Plourde said.
The Rams’ biggest area of concern going forward will be the consistency of its outside hitters.
“They combined to hit in the negatives, it’s amazing we were even in this match,” Hilbert said. “We need our outside hitters to be better if we’re going to beat top level teams.”
They’ll have another shot Saturday against BYU, who is receiving votes in the AVCA Top-25 poll, in their final match of the 2012 Shocker Volleyball Classic at 10 a.m.
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