Rams sweep Air Force Academy, improve to 10-4

Naeemah+Weathers+%289%29%2C+a+Colorado+State+University+middle+blocker%2C+spikes+the+ball+to+gain+a+point+against+the+United+States+Air+Force+Academy+Falcons+in+Colorado+Springs%2C+Colorado%2C+Sept.+29.+The+Rams+won+the+match+3-0.

Collegian | Serena Bettis

Naeemah Weathers (9), a Colorado State University middle blocker, spikes the ball to gain a point against the United States Air Force Academy Falcons in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Sept. 29. The Rams won the match 3-0.

Braidon Nourse, Sports Editor

The Colorado State University Rams volleyball team took on the Falcons of the United States Air Force Academy. Coming into the match, the Rams were 55-2 against the Falcons in the 40-year history of the matchup. 

The Rams found their 56th win against the Falcons in straight sets. In the first set, the Falcons kept the score close through the first half of the set. However, they were forced to take their first timeout when CSU jumped out to a 14-11 lead. 

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The downpour of points — specifically from junior hitter Kennedy Stanford, who had five kills in the set — continued, proving too much for the Falcons defense. The first set was won by the Rams by a score of 25-18.

Stanford continued to dominate in the second set with five more kills in the set. The Falcons were able to keep it closer down the stretch in the set, at one point trailing the Rams 20-17. Following a timeout by head coach Tom Hilbert, the Rams were able to pull away and win the second set, 25-20.

Through the second set, the Rams dominated in hitting percentage, hitting at a 29.5% rate to the Falcons’ 19.4%. Consistency was the strong point during the second set both in hitting and limiting errors.

To begin the third set, Air Force focused on holding Stanford to limited opportunities with defensive adjustments on her side of the floor. Early on, it opened the door for redshirt sophomore Malaya Jones, who scored two of the Rams’ first three points of the set.

“We flipped (Stanford and Jones), and it was to take a little pressure off (Jones) in the two-hitter rotations, and it worked,” Hilbert said.

Air Force continued to hang with the Rams throughout the first half of the third, but opportunities broadened to more of the Rams offensive specialists. One of them was senior Annie Sullivan, who tallied five kills in the final frame. Behind Sullivan’s nice attacking and multiple aces by redshirt senior Ciera Pritchard, the Rams won the third set comfortably by a score of 25-17.

“(Pritchard) played extremely well,” Hilbert said. “(She) made really good decisions, worked on attacking against blocking matchups. … Annie Sullivan was really good toward the end of the set.”

The Rams improve to 10-4 (3-0 conference) on the season, and will conclude their short road trip against the University of New Mexico at 1 p.m. Oct. 1.

Reach Braidon Nourse at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @BraidonNourse.