No. 13 CSU volleyball team ready for more than a share of Mountain West title

Sam Lounsberry

Sharing is not enough.
 
Not for the No. 13 CSU volleyball team.
 
The Rams secured at least a share of the Mountain West regular season title Thursday night with a 3-0 sweep (25-14, 25-22,25-20) over San Jose State, but were hardly celebratory after the win.
 
“I think it’s exciting, but we still have a lot of season left, and I think once we finish conference, that’s when we can celebrate,” senior outside hitter Alex Reid said. “But we still have a bunch of games left to finish.”
 
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CSU standout hitter Adrianna Culbert sets a ball as teammate Alexandra Poletto anticipates where to during CSU’s 3-0 sweep over San Jose State on Thursday. Photo by Michael Roley.
With three games remaining in Mountain West play for the Rams, Boise State (19-7, 11-3 MW) still technically has a chance to tie CSU (21-3, 14-0 MW) for the conference crown. That is, if the Rams drop their final three against UNLV, Fresno State and Wyoming.
 
But head coach Tom Hilbert and his team aren’t planning for that scenario.
 
“Now that we have clinched, we will do a trophy presentation at the Fresno State match,” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said. “That will be fun for those guys.”
 
But with this season bringing CSU its seventh straight MW regular season championship, the Rams are ready to move onto bigger milestones.
 
“Believe me, I’m sure they’re happy they won this conference championship,” Hilbert said. “I think these guys have a feeling they can do some special things this year, and that’s probably why this was sort of a normal match. They’d like to run the table (in the MW) and have an NCAA (Tournament) run.”
 
No team has gone undefeated in MW play since CSU in 2003, Hilbert said.
 
“Being able to be undefeated in conference, that’s really something special that a lot of teams really don’t get to do,” Reid said. “So having that I think would be really great for our team going into the NCAA Tournament.”
 
Reid and fellow outside hitter Jasmine Hanna led the way against the Spartans. Hanna’s 12 kills were a game-high, and Reid trailed just behind with 11 to go with her eight digs.
 
“I think the setting was locating us balls to the line,” Hanna said. “(SJSU) wasn’t taking line, so I think we got a lot of our swings down there. And then I think we worked pretty hard getting our feet to sets, too, and just made the best out of them.”
 
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CSU senior outside hitter Alex Reid jumps for a kill attempt in Thursday night’s match against San Jose State, which the Rams swept 3-0 for a share of the Mountain West regular season title. Photo by Michael Roley.
Though CSU dominated the first set, hitting .500 for an 11-point victory at its end, 25-14, the Rams encountered some struggles thereafter.
 
Standout Adrianna Culbert didn’t have her best game, finishing with eight kills, four attack errors and just a .190 hitting percentage (though she tallied a game-best 19 assists). But some of her adversity was due to SJSU being keyed in to stopping the senior.
 
“Dri Culbert was mad at herself today, and felt like she wasn’t playing very well, but that team was on everything she did all the time,” Hilbert said. “When people are like that, we have to be able to go to other people, and (Hanna and Reid) came up.”
 
In the second set, SJSU came back to tie CSU at 10, and even led 13-11 at one point. The Spartans and Rams traded points back and forth until CSU led by just one, 20-19, at which point it was only hitting .167 for the set.
 
The Rams then scored three in a row, though, before San Jose tallied one to make it 23-20. Jasmine Hanna made a kill to push the score to set point, 24-20, then the Rams gave up two more before winning the set 25-22. They finished hitting .237 in the second.
 
Culbert notched a kill off a well-timed dump in the third to give CSU set point for the sweep, 24-20, and Alexandra Poletto finished the Spartans off with a kill. Poletto added to CSU’s outside hitting attack spearheaded by Reid and Hanna all night, finishing with six kills and seven blocks.
 
With the victory over SJSU, the Rams have now won 16 consecutive matches, a streak started Sept. 20 against Eastern Kentucky. The Rams’ last loss came in an exhibition Sept. 21 against a professional Chinese team from Shanghai, and its last loss counting towards their record came to Texas A&M Sept. 15.
 
The Rams hit the road to play UNLV on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT.
 
Collegian Assistant Sports Editor Sam Lounsberry can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @samlounz.