CSU volleyball drops first matches of season, swept by UCSB

Michael Roley

Colorado State volleyball suffered their first two losses of the young season while playing in a weekend tournament in Santa Barbara, Calif., this past weekend, resulting in the team no longer holding a national rank for the first time in 47 weeks.

The Rams played a total of three games over the weekend, finishing 1-2.

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CSU kicked off the tournament with a 3-1 win (25-23, 20-25, 25-19, 25-18) over Baylor on Friday. The Rams were led by junior Sanja Cizmic, who registered 18 kills on 31 swings to hit .484. Redshirt freshman Kirstie Hillyer buried 13 kills and Jasmine Hanna had nine.

Freshman setter Katie Oleksak broke the 40 plus assist mark again with 43 to go along with nine digs. As a team, CSU hit .298 for the match while Baylor hit .229. The Rams held the Bears to a .111 hitting percentage in the match-clinching fourth set and recorded 10 total blocks.

Saturday saw the Rams get handed their first two losses of the year. In the first game, they lost a close five-set thriller to Pittsburgh. CSU raced out in the first set, dominating the Panthers 25-12. CSU had an unbelievable .889 in that first set, converting 16 of 18 attacks. Pitt would rally to take the next two sets before the Rams evened the match with a 25-22 victory in the fourth set. Pitt then closed the deal in the fifth by a score of 15-11 to hand CSU their first loss of the season.

Olivia Nicholson paced CSU offensively with 15 kills. Cizmic contributed 14 more and Alexandra Poletto was highly efficient with 13 kills on 17 attempts.

CSU then got swept 3-0 (22-25, 23-25, 20-25) by the tournament hosts, UC Santa Barbara in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader. The Rams struggled offensively, hitting only .162 for the match and had 11 costly service errors.

Hanna led with 11 kills and libero Cassidy Denny contributed 18 digs. The Gauchos received a huge offensive performance from Lindsey Ruddins, who had 16 kills.

The win over CSU was the third consecutive sweep of the tournament for UC Santa Barbara. On Friday, the Gauchos swept CSU Bakersfield and Baylor on their home floor.

They played the match against UC Santa Barbara without starting middle blocker Alexandra Poletto, who was being evaluated for concussion symptoms, head coach Tom Hilbert said after the game.

The Rams will have several days off before welcoming Wichita State to Moby Arena on Thursday at 7 p.m and the No. 3 team in the country Texas on Friday for the Rams Volleyball Classic.

Collegian sports reporter Michael Roley can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChadDeutschman

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