CSU volleyball extends dominance over Air Force

Just another ho-hum sweep of Air Force for the CSU volleyball team.

The Rams defeated the Falcons 3-0 in Moby Arena Thursday night and haven’t lost a set to Air Force since 2005.

CSU’s normally dominant blocking didn’t show up until late in the first set, which allowed Air Force to hang around and tie the score at 19. But the Rams went on a 6-1 run to close the set out.

“We were having a hard time point scoring (scoring when serving) in set one; they were having a harder time,” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said.

The Rams only totalled two blocks in the opening set, but one of those was a solo block by Megan Plourde, which moved her into second place on CSU’s all time block charts.

“I feel very honored. I give all the credit to my coaches and my surrounding players. I get  most of my blocks from block assists, meaning that I’m closing to a block,” Plourde said. “A lot of the times it’s the outside pin hitters that are actually getting a block, and I just get a stat for it.”

She finished with six blocks and six kills in the match and needs 53 blocks to pass Angela Knopf for the top spot.

CSU finished with 12 blocks as a team, which held Air Force to a .042 hitting percentage.

The Falcons hit -.200 in the final set, collecting only five kills with 11 hitting errors.

At one point CSU lead 21-10, its largest margin of the match, and Hilbert took outside hitter Dana Cranston out of the match for the first time this season.

He put defensive specialist Michelle Smith and middle blocker Anastassi Koutchouk in for the last five points of the game to get them some live game experience.

“It’s awesome in games like this to work really hard and get those other girls in,” Cranston said.

Cranston finished with 11 kills to lead the team, and killed nine balls in the first two sets.

CSU finished with 36 kills and 11 hitting errors in the match, and used its size and athleticism advantages to wear down Air Force over the course of the match.

“We had some weird hitting errors in this game. It’s a little higher than our average for unforced hitting errors, but I was pleased with the way we attacked the ball,” Hilbert said.

The victory moves CSU into a tie with UNLV for first place in the Mountain West at the halfway point of the conference season.

The Rams will play six road games remaining compared to just three home games.

“I think going into the  second half we’re a lot more focused. Since Vegas and the last few games, the level of focus on the court is way higher,” Cranston said. “If we can continue that and make that a priority on the road and here we’ll be successful in the second half of our season.”

Assistant Sports Editor Kyle Grabowski can be reached at sports@collegian.com.