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Rams move up in rankings after second straight undefeated weekend

The Colorado State volleyball team has moved up to No. 22 in the latest AVCA coaches poll released Monday. The Rams finished last weekend with a perfect 3-0 record, including a sweep of then-No. 16 Michigan Wolverines on Friday night.

CSU started the week Friday afternoon with a 3-1 victory over the Ball State Cardinals in which redshirt sophomore Breana Runnels had a career high 19 kills. Senior Sanja Cizmic added in 12 kills against Ball State as her tournament MVP weekend performance was just getting started.

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The match against Ball State was a warm up for Michigan, who came into the game forcing their opponents to hit under a .200 clip. CSU would flip the script on the Wolverines and dominate offensively all game, as seen by their .396 hit percentage for the match.

Cizmic imposed her will with 13 kills and a .550 hit percentage as she led the team in both of those categories. Defense struggled a bit as the Rams had only four blocks, but what they lacked at the net was made up from the arms of their outside hitters in the Rams second sweep over a top 25 team this season. 

Those numbers would carry over into Sunday when the Rams matched up with the Idaho State Bengals to try and complete the weekend sweep. Cizmic once again was not only picking up kills left and right, but was also efficient with a .421 hit percentage for the match to go with 10 kills.

CSU also had a big blocking performance, highlighted by Runnels and sophomore Paulina Hougaard-Jensen. They each had seven blocks with Runnels picking up one solo block and Hougaard-Jensen having four blocks in the third and final frame.

The Bengals had no real answer for the four headed attacking barrage of CSU that also saw 10 kills from senior Jasmine Hanna, 13 from Runnels and nine from Hougaard-Jensen. CSU went on to sweep the Bengals, their fifth sweep victory of the season.

The weekend show put on by Cizmic earned her the tournament MVP award to help lead the Rams to the title. Runnels and sophomore Katie Oleksak were also named to the all-tournament team with Oleksak picking up 137 assists in three matches.

The scariest part for the rest of country is that the Rams have reached number 22 without having a single fully healthy lineup. Senior Alexandra Poletto had sat out every game this season until she finally saw action against Michigan. The middle blocker was able to contribute five kills on eight attacking attempts.

Sophomore Kirstie Hillyer was named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week last week, but had to be out all weekend due to a knee injury suffered against Florida State. Senior McKenna Thronlow was also down all weekend with a concussion.

The Rams will hope to have all three players back next weekend as they complete the non-conference portion of their schedule with another home tournament. CSU will put their eight-game win streak on the line when they welcome Albany University, Xaiver University and Colorado University to Fort Collins.

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The first match for the Rams will begin on Friday against Albany at 7 p.m. and it will be followed by two matches on Saturday. Xaiver will be up first at 1 p.m. and the night cap will be against rival CU and it will be the team’s annual “Green Out” game. That match is set to begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ajwrules44

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