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Kennedy Stanford dominates as CSU sweeps Boise State

Senior+Kennedy+Stanford+%2817%29+and+redshirt+sophomore+Kate+Yoshimoto+%2818%29+celebrate+after+a+sucessful+play.
Collegian | Cait Mckinzie
Senior Kennedy Stanford (17) and redshirt sophomore Kate Yoshimoto (18) celebrate after a sucessful play Oct. 28. CSU won 3-0.

In order to beat one of the top teams in the conference, a team needs talent, grit and determination. 

Kennedy Stanford just embodied all of that in Colorado State’s sweep (25-16, 25-14, 25-16) over Boise State to hoist the team up to third place in the Mountain West standings.

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It wasn’t a secret that Stanford struggled in her last match against Utah State. She hit just .097 with seven kills over five sets. 

As she entered her match against Boise State, she wasn’t going to let that be the case. Instead, she and her squad battled from start to finish to pull off a dominant win. 

“I think it shows resilience from us — we were unhappy with the reverse sweep,” Stanford said. “Coming out with the fire and the energy that we did against a team that was No. 2 in the conference going into this week is something we really wanted to do, and it was good to see us execute from point one to point 25.”

It was clear early on that Stanford and the Rams had no intention of holding back. Stanford had 15 kills, hitting .583 with 11 digs — her most this season for a three-set match.

Stanford wasn’t the only Ram embodying grit and determination. CSU’s defense came out strong against the Broncos, holding the typically high-scoring team to just 29 kills out of 111 attacks with 22 errors, resulting in a mere .063 hitting percentage on the match. Head coach Emily Kohan says that is a direct result of their triple blocking strategy they’ve implemented.

“When you’re preparing for it on the other team, you’re like, ‘Oh god, we’re going to have three huge people in front of us,’” Kohan said. “It makes you change what you want to do. I think it’s getting better and better each week, and it’s something we’re going to stick with.”

The biggest success of the Rams defense was their performance against Paige Bartsch, Boise State’s leading killer. CSU’s nonstop energy and fight forced Bartsch into racking up 15 errors with only 10 kills, leading to an overall hitting percentage of -.102 — her worst of the season. 

Boise State was unable to find another player to pick up Bartsch’s slack, with their second highest number of kills coming from Anabel Kotzakov, who had six.

“(I’m) really proud of them for figuring out how to keep the momentum and put Paige Bartsch down to some pretty low efficiency and kill numbers because she is one of the best players in the conference,” Kohan said. “That’s maybe what I’m most proud of: our blocking and defense being able to hold her to low hitting efficiency.”

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The third set of the match began to look scary for CSU, echoing the reverse sweep by Utah State just two days prior. Boise State got an early lead, and the Rams struggled to gain early momentum.

However, the Rams knew they didn’t want a repeat of the Utah State loss, and through hard fought volleys, tough defense and key kills from multiple players in the squad, the Rams mounted a comeback to win the final set in dominant fashion.

“Our mentality was to go out there (with the) foot on the gas and not let it slip through our fingers,” Naeemah Weathers said.

Emery Herman was CSU’s unsung hero for the match, putting up 34 assists and setting up Weathers, Malaya Jones and Stanford in crucial moments to continue building momentum for her squad.

“I got a lot of great opportunities,” Stanford said. “Emery really got me balls that were wide open.”

Weathers was slightly subdued in the beginning of the match, only getting one kill in the first set before coming alive in the second and third to end with six kills on .385 hitting percentage. Kohan, however, says that was all part of the game plan.

“When we played (Boise State) the first time, they put blockers in front of her every single time,” Kohan said. “So we knew from the scouting report Naeemah is going to have these huge people in front of her, so let’s get other people going and then open it up later in the game.”

The Rams (13-10, 7-5 MW) look to pick up their second win of their homestand 7 p.m. this Halloween against Wyoming (16-6, 5-6 MW) in Moby Arena.

Will Engle can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @willengle44.

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