Boise and Utah State fall to Runnels-less Rams

Taylor Paumen

Colorado State University women's volleyball athletes celebrate
Colorado State University women’s volleyball athletes celebrate after winning the match against Boise State University 3-1 March 25. (Michael Marquardt | The Collegian)

Despite the chips being stacked against them, the Colorado State volleyball team picked up two crucial wins against Boise State University and Utah State University to close out their last home games of the regular season.

Before the Rams took the court, they were already disadvantaged. Offensive powerhouse Breana Runnels would miss both games due to COVID-19 health protocols.  

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The Rams started set one of their Thursday game with an early five-point run to get a 9-5 lead. Five seemed to be the magic number as the Rams again went on a five-point run to make it an 18-10 lead later in the set. On paper, the lack of Runnels should have hurt the Rams significantly, but in set one, it did not appear to be a hindrance, as the Rams won 25-19 with a game-high hitting percentage of 40.5%. 

Boise State rebounded quickly to start the second set and gained a quick 6-2 lead. The Rams never lead this set, and playing catch-up took its toll. The Broncos took set two 25-16 after five straight points to close it out.  

CSU dominated set one, the Broncos did so with set two, but set three was anyone’s game. With the teams tying 10 times throughout the set, the Rams came together as a team with kills coming from six different players to steal set three 25-22

Ciera Zimmerman’s consistent ball placement helped guide the Rams to 20 kills and a win in set four. Despite the recent ankle injury, the redshirt sophomore’s motor to compete was never in question as the Rams took the fourth and final set 27-25

The Rams remain undefeated against the Broncos at Moby Arena in large part due to Jacqi Van Liefde’s 20 kills and Zimmerman’s 47 assists. 

If you were unable to watch CSU’s impressive upset over Boise State, KCSU’s Dixon Lawson and Jonathan Gillham have got you covered, as a recording of their live in-game commentary can be found below. 

A slow start to the Utah State game initially dampened the high of the 3-1 victory over Boise State as the Rams were in trouble early. CSU had just five kills in their 25-14 loss to the Aggies in set one. 

Set two was a completely different story. The Rams started with a 4-0 lead that was quickly pushed to 10-2. Utah State defended with strong blocks on both ends of their side of the net, making it a challenge for CSU’s hitters to get over, but the Rams continued to build momentum and lead 19-11. CSU had 17 kills en route to their 25-12 set two win. 

Set three looked very similar to the previous set as the Rams had only five errors — less than half of what Utah State put up. The Aggies stayed close in the beginning, but soon lost it after CSU went on a nine-point streak. The Rams finished up the set quickly after, playing clean and aggressively to win 25-13

The final set of the weekend was a much tighter affair, as the score was tied 11 different times, but the Rams still managed to come out on top.  

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Utah State stayed close but could not finish, as the Rams ended the set and match with a 25-18 win. CSU ended the afternoon with an overall .291 hitting average, and Kennedy Stanford led the team in kills with 14 followed by Van Liefde with 13

Playing the underdog role is clearly something this young team relishes, but it will not be something they need to do for the rest of the regular season.

To close out the regular season, the Rams will have away games against the University of New Mexico and San Diego State University, both of whom are below the Rams in the Mountain West Conference standings. 

Taylor Paumen can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TayTayPau.