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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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CSU volleyball starts their Mountain West schedule with a win in Reno

Colorado State volleyball has often dominated conference play in the last decade, winning eight of the last nine Mountain West conference titles, but the Rams learned early that this season may be different.

The road to their 15th Mountain West conference title tipped off on Thursday night in Reno, Nevada for the Rams. CSU defeated the University of Nevada in a hard-fought four sets (18-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-19) to win their 12thstraight Mountain West conference opening game.


From the start, the Wolfpack were determined to upset the Rams. Nevada took the lead in the early portion of the first set at 7-6 and never relinquished the lead from there, eventually exploding on a 6-1 run to increase their lead to six. The Rams were able to narrow the lead to one point at 15-14, but the Wolfpack went on two more runs to end the Rams comeback at 25-18.

Both sides hit the ball extremely well in the first set, as CSU had a hitting percentage of .303 and Nevada sat at a sterling .464.

CSU would come back to life in the second set as the visitors cruised to a 6-0 lead before swiftly extending their lead to 15-8. Nevada had moments within the set where it looked like they could swing momentum, but the Rams consistently recovered.

With both teams fetching for momentum in a 1-1 match, the third set was an all-out battle. The opening blow was delivered by the Rams who leaped out to a 4-0 lead, before allowing Nevada to do the same, knotting the match at four apiece.

Despite the back-and-forth between conference foes, the Rams’ leading hitters took control. Redshirt junior Kirstie Hillyer registered six kills in the tilting third set, a tally only bested by her teammate, redshirt sophomore Breana Runnels (7). 

Freshman Breana Runnels and Sophomore Kirstie Hillyer block an opponets spike at the CSU v. Fresno game Wednesday night. Photo by Olive Ancell | Collegian

The two continued to lead the teams’ hitting force by way of distribution from the Mountain West’s premier setter in junior Katie Oleksak who registered a game-high 42 assists. 

The Wolf Pack led the Rams at 23-22 before CSU was able to rally the last three points, led by two kills and a block from Hillyer to clinch a crucial set victory. The final five offensive points of the set for the Rams were all due to a kill from Runnels or Hillyer, with Runnels going on a four kill run to keep the set close. 

Reminiscent of the second set, CSU led most of the way throughout the fourth set. Jumping out to an 8-4 lead behind four errors from the Wolfpack, the Rams built their lead to 20-13 before Nevada even came within three points.

Trying to avoid a match-deciding fifth set, CSU forced 10 errors in the final set alone, with freshman Sasha Colombo registering the match-clinching point on a service ace. 


The 2017 Mountain West Newcomer of the Year winning Runnels added to her sophomore campaign earning her fourth double-double of the season with 18 kills and 10 digs.

CSU will now shift their focus to their home-opener of the Mountain West season as San Jose State University will visit Moby Arena Sept. 22 at 7 p.m.

Collegian sports reporter Sergio Santistevan can be reached at or on Twitter @TheRealsSergio.

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About the Contributor
DEVIN CORNELIUS, Digital Managing Editor
Devin Cornelius is the digital managing editor for The Collegian. He is a fifth-year computer science major from Austin, Texas. He moved to Colorado State University and started working for The Collegian in 2017 as a photographer. His passion for photography began in high school, so finding a photography job in college was one of his top priorities. He primarily takes sports photos, volleyball being his favorite to shoot. Having been on The Collegian staff for 4 1/2 years, he's watched the paper evolve from a daily to a weekly paper, and being involved in this transition is interesting and exciting. Although Cornelius is a computer science major, his time at The Collegian has been the most fulfilling experience in his college career — he has loved every second. From working 12-hour days to taking photos in Las Vegas for the Mountain West Conference, he cannot think of a better place to work. Working as a photographer for The Collegian pushed him outside of his comfort zone, taking him places that he never expected and making him the photographer he is today. As the digital managing editor, Cornelius oversees the photos, graphics and social media of The Collegian along with other small tech things. Working on the editorial staff with Katrina Leibee and Serena Bettis has been super fun and extremely rewarding, and together they have been pushing The Collegian toward being an alt-weekly. Outside of The Collegian, he enjoys playing volleyball, rugby, tumbling and a variety of video games. When in Austin, you can find him out on the lake, wake surfing, wake boarding and tubing. You can expect that Cornelius and the rest of The Collegian staff will do their best to provide you with interesting and exciting content.

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