Rams hand Nevada 5th straight loss, earn 19 game win streak

Ryan Loberger

Sports are supposed to be fun, and when you’re in the midst of a 19 game win streak, it’s hard to not have fun. For the Colorado State volleyball team and their senior drive core, this weekend was no exception as they swept the University of Nevada Saturday afternoon. 

“That was a goal today,” setter Katie Oleksak said. “Smile, have fun, enjoy the game, and especially in the first two sets, we stepped out and we definitely did that.”

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Here are the highlights from Saturday’s game.

The Rams worked their way to their 14th sweep of the season with a 3-0 win over the Wolfpack (25-12, 25-16, 27-25). CSU yielded a service ace to start the game but rebounded to take the first and second sets.

The Rams’ attack went to work, picking apart the Nevada defense. After the first set, the Rams owned a hitting mark of .500 while limiting the Wolfpack to -.107% on the attack.

Kirstie Hillyer(#13) blocks the incoming ball
Kirstie Hillyer (13) blocks the incoming ball during the home game against Nevada. Colorado State won three sets to zero. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

Outside hitter Breana Runnels led the Rams with 14 kills, and middle blockers Paulina Hougaard-Jensen and Kirstie Hillyer both added eight kills.

Hillyer hit a season-high .676% in the game; the redshirt senior has been hitting efficiently lately. Her .676% mark today was the fourth time she has hit above .600 in her past five games. 

After making quick work of the Wolfpack in the first two sets, the Rams found themselves in a battle as Nevada wouldn’t go without a fight. CSU battled from behind to take the third set 27-25.  

“That last set was crazy, but we controlled a great deal of this match, ” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “And we had one hitting error in the first two sets. I don’t remember ever being that clean.”

Despite the close third set, the Rams dominated Nevada for the majority of the match, and running out of substitutions in the third set helped Nevada find their offense. 

“We were playing at a very, very high level, and I put a new lineup in the third set, and they cracked us a little bit and showed that they’re a pretty good team,” Hilbert said. “If you give them a little bit of space, they’re (going to) come at you pretty hard. Our team handled that adversity pretty well. We dug a little hole and slowly chipped our way out of it even though Nevada was playing pretty good.”

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Katie Oleksak(#22) stuffs the Opponent and scores for the University
Katie Oleksak (22) stuffs the opponent and scores during the Colorado State home game against Nevada. CSU won three sets to zero. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

At this point in the season, fatigue is a factor, and being able to mix in some of their bench players has helped take pressure off the Rams’ starting seven. 

“It’s good to give rest,” Hilbert said. “It’s good to give those other guys (time), keep them fresh and get them alert to playing in the games. It’s good for everybody. I want to keep developing players in this program, and that’s how you do it.”

Rest will be key as the Rams will be hosting the team chasing them in Mountain West standings on Tuesday night: the University of Wyoming. The second installment of this year’s Border War will take place at Moby Arena at 7 p.m. 

Ryan Loberger can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Lobergerryan.