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No. 9 CSU returns home to roll past Air Force

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Colorado State players Acacia Andrews (11), and Marlee Reynolds (15), go for a block during Thursday’s game.

No. 9 Colorado State moved one step closer to hoisting the Mountain West trophy Thursday night as the Rams swept the Air Force Falcons 27-25, 25-18, 25-17. CSU now needs to win against New Mexico on Saturday but also needs UNLV to lose to San Jose State on its home court to clinch at least a share of the Mountain West regular season title.

CSU started the match off slow with a back and forth battle mid-way through the first set, allowing Air Force to counter on tips and mistakes made by the Rams.

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Despite the slow start, CSU clinched the first set on a service error followed by an attacker error by Air Force.

“Our service pressure was good tonight and it made for a match that went shorter rotation,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “There were some things we didn’t do well tonight, we had way too many unforced errors as attackers but I thought we blocked the ball well. We still have things to get better at but it’s a win against a team who I think is getting significantly better in conference as the season goes on.”

The Air Force offense was led by Akokwe Clement with nine kills on 36 attempts along with Maggie Sherrill with seven. Clement and Sherrill had the most kills on the team and swings but were limited to .056 hitting.

“Clement is a good player and I think we did a good job putting pressure on her with serving and with blocking,” Hilbert said. “It worked out to our advantage.”

The Rams’ defense continues to limit long rallies for their opponents on the block with junior Jaime Colaizzi in the back row. Colaizzi made history as she tallied 1,000 digs in her career with 14 Thursday night, earning a spot among four others.

“Honestly that is not a stat I have thought much about, I mean it is cool but I have a lot to work on,” Colaizzi said.

Next up, CSU will take on New Mexico and the All-American outside hitter Chantale Riddle. The Rams emphasized how important it will be to serve them as strong as they did against Air Force and to get more balls down from the outside hitter position.

“It was different being back in Moby and there were some things we needed to communicate better,” Colaizzi said. “It was great to be back in front of our fans and get that fire back that we’ve been missing over the last couple matches.”

Collegian Sports Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at sports@collegian.com an on Twitter @haleighhamblin.

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