CSU volleyball pulls off five-set thriller in New Mexico

091213-VolleyballvsMissouriSt_DLbegin-3It was a nail-biting, rally-scoring, comeback-type victory for Colorado State volleyball in their victory over New Mexico (27-25,25-17,25-27,16-25,15-13) on Saturday.

The constant strength in the red zone for CSU has improved its record to 12-0.
“The thing about this team is that we are so competitive, where as last year we would have lost that game,” setter Deedra Foss said.
The Rams shut down the Lobos in The Pit arena in Albuquerque, where they held an undefeated record in 2013 . The game snapped the Lobos 10-match winning streak, dropping them to 11-2 on the season. At the match’s start, it appeared the New Mexico defense would hand the Rams their first loss. But when CSU trailed New Mexico 20-16 then 24-22, a drive kicked in to win.
“We came out in the third set and it was again a another very competitive set,” head coach Tom Hilbert said.  “I was very disappointed in that set and how we played in the end because we had several chances to put it away and didn’t. We ended up losing that one, that kinda too the wind out of our sail.”
The match came down to the fifth set in which the Rams prevailed from another comeback victory. From an 11-11 tie, CSU pushed on to win the final frame 15-13.
“There was one point on the court when we all came together and said, ‘We are not losing this match’,” Foss said.
Middle blocker Kelsey Snider led the offense with 18 kills and five blocks, hitting .341 percent. New Mexico shut down attacks due to their strong independent blocking system.
“Hitting wise, what was working well is for middles especially going straight up and quick because their middles were not as quick off the ground,” Snider said.  “I think they had scouted us to know we could cross court towards zone five. Once we figured out to hit a difference shot, I think that worked in our advantage for us.”
On the outside Adrianna Culbert, Marlee Reynolds and Michelle Lawrence all contributed 12 kills. The Lobos held the Rams to a .220 hitting percentage on 68 kills. With 29 hitting errors and only 11 blocks, CSU continues to rally at the end and win close matches.
“I am really happy to get out of Albequereque with a win because I dont think a lot of people are going to win there in our conference,” Hilbert said.
Saturday was the closest match for the Rams this season, against the Lobos proved to the Rams that there is no time to let down or be shaken up by opponents.

No. 19 CSU holds a 3-0 record in the Mountain West, continuing the third-best start in program history. The Rams will recoil their momentum in practice on Monday as they prepare for Nevada on Thursday.

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“There are some players who need to rest and have admitted they are pretty beat up. There are other players who we have very specific things we want to work on,” Hilbert said. “We will most likely spend Monday and Tuesday being very, very specific. Not doing as much team play, and just trying to improve certain areas for certain players.”

Volleyball Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at sports@collegian.com