Rams fall to Gamecocks in thriller 1st round of tournament play

Nick Baker

The Colorado State Rams came into round one of the postseason tournament excited to prove their worth and make a run after a historic 29-1 season. The South Carolina Gamecocks entered tonight‘s matchup with a regular-season record of 19-11, and they had a different storyline in mind.

Forcing the Rams to make mistakes, extending volleys far beyond the Rams’ comfort and a powerful attacking presence were the keys of the game in a five-set CSU loss.


With 69 digs in the match, the Rams were forced into deep volleys they weren’t used to, and one or two great plays weren’t enough for the Rams to slide by like they would in Mountain West play.

Breana Runnels(15), Paulina Hougaard-Jensen(11) and Olivia Nicholson(3) attempt to block an attack during CSU’s game against South Carolina

The Rams out-killed the Gamecocks 73 to 58, out-blocked the Gamecocks 13 to five and out-assisted the Gamecocks 69 to 51. What was the difference in the match? The Rams combined for 44 total errors, headlined by a whopping 17 service errors.

Though the Rams had nine service aces, almost three blocks per set and four attackers with over 10 kills, they shot themselves in the foot early and often and quickly established a feeling of desperation. This persisted throughout the game, even in the dominant second and fourth sets where the Rams won by eight and 11 points.

A dominant attack by Mikayla Shields and Mikayla Robinson combined for 31 total kills with just seven errors. This lethal attacking forced the Rams into some uncomfortable situations they hadn’t seen often this year. Entering the match, the Rams had held opponents to a .104 hitting percentage. South Carolina transcended this expectation and hit .255, making a huge difference and ultimately deciding the game.

The fifth set came down to set point multiple times in both CSU and South Carolina’s favor and even relied on two challenges. In the end, the power attack from Shields broke through the Rams’ defense and secured a huge first-round victory against the Rams.

The Rams’ historic season came to an end Friday night as CSU fell 3-2 to South Carolina to finish the season 29-2.

Nick Baker can be reached at sports@collegian.com