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CSU volleyball moves up nationally after weekend sweeps

The CSU Rams beat Cal Poly 3-0 this Saturday at Moby Arena. The Rams are starting off the volleyball season with high hopes and promising results.
The CSU Rams beat Cal Poly 3-0 this Saturday at Moby Arena. The Rams are starting off the volleyball season with high hopes and promising results.

Despite the inexperience of the CSU women’s volleyball team, the Rams came out and swept the floor in Moby over the weekend.

Opening the 2013 season with a 2-0 record, the Rams showed high hopes for a strong season to come as they defeated Baylor (25-12, 25-11, 25-16) and Cal Poly (25-19,25-22,25-16).

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FRIDAY Aug. 30 vs. University of Baylor

On Friday, CSU proved its underdog mentality can win games and set records.

The Rams recorded 53 kills as a team and had a hitting percentage of .529. In the first game of the season, they surpassed their average hitting percentage from the 2012 season.

With the high number of kills for the Rams and only errors, veteran hitters Samantha Peters, Kelsey Snider, Adrianna Culbert and Marlee Reynolds pushed their fellow teammates to put up similar numbers.

Freshman Michelle Lawrence finished her collegiate debut with eight kills on 16 attempts. Head Coach Tom Hilbert decided three days before opening day that Lawrence would start on the outside for the Rams due to her recent increase in consistency and efficiency at the net.

“In the first match of the year with a team as inexperienced as this one is, you can’t ask for a better overall performance,” Hilbert said. “The point is that we stayed playing at a high level during all three sets, and that is a mark of a very good team, really we did not do that last year.”

Saturday Aug. 31 vs. Cal Poly

In transition from Friday to Saturday, the Rams struggled to bring their hitting and blocking accuracy with them, causing sophomore Deedra Foss to rely on middle hitters to get the ball down.

Compared to Friday night’s kills, CSU collected a total of 41 in its 108 attempts, 24 coming from Snider and Culbert.

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“I am getting a lot more comfortable (in the middle),” Snider said. “Me and Deedra (Foss) are beginning to connect really well, and I am starting to see more things which is awesome.”

The Rams found themselves struggling to distance themselves from the Bears. In set two, CSU was tied at 22 with Cal Poly. Just three points shy of adding their first defeat of the season, Snider came through under pressure with two consecutive aces.

“It was definitely nice to come back from being down,” senior Samantha Peters said. “Obviously it is not somewhere we want to be ever, but it was great to see that we could fight back in what we call the red zone.”

The Mountain West kicked off the 2013 with all 11 teams in action. Atop of MW standings is CSU (2-0) tied with Wyoming (4-0).

This weekend also boosted CSU’s top-25 chances, going from votes in preseason poll to 50 and moving the Rams up from 39th to 31st in the nation.

“I am very pleased with where this team is right now,” Hilbert said. “I was concerned about the first week of training camp. We are better defensively than we have been in a while, and we are a great serving team, and we’re getting to be really solid on the outside at times. If we are doing those three things consistently going into the Mountain West, we are going to be OK.”

Despite the challenge CSU faced in set two against Cal Poly, Hilbert addressed the challenge he forsees against Northern Colorado on Tuesday. This will be the toughest game of the season thus far for the Rams, especially since UNC also defeated Cal Poly this past weekend.

The Rams take on the University of Northern Colorado Bears in Moby Arena Tuesday at 7 p.m. CSU will look for their third consecutive win of the season, and their first against Colorado neighbor UNC.

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