After a rough road tournament in Wichita, Kan., the CSU volleyball team brought down the Canadian Hammer and rediscovered their confidence.
The Rams overpowered Oklahoma 3-1 behind a career-high 19 kills from senior outside hitter Dana Cranston (a.k.a the Canadian Hammer) to break their first three game losing streak since 2008.
“We had our feet under us a little bit more, and as crappy as this weekend was, we learned a lot of things that we need to, that we might not have learned if we played a tournament like the first weekend,” Cranston said. “As tough as it was I’m glad we did it, and I think we’re better today because of it.”
CSU finished long rallies with kills and closed out tough, close sets rather than wilting like they did against Wichita State and Tennessee.
“The first two sets were similar to the first two sets we were playing the past few days. We couldn’t generate many kills from outside hitting, and we got better at it in the last two sets,” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said.
Most of that was due to Cranston’s explosion. She blasted 12 of her 19 kills down in the second two sets and kept her errors down, which she struggled with in the preceding matches.
“She was down a little bit, but getting her some one-on-one opportunities really brought her back up,” redshirt sophomore setter Deedra Foss said. “If she makes a mistake I’m going to go back to her and give her another chance, and a lot of times she kills the next one.”
The Rams struggled with the speed of Oklahoma’s offense early, but adjusted quickly to finish with 15 blocks in the match.
“We practice that in our practice session, but I feel like at times we’re not running it as fast as the actual team,” senior middle blocker Megan Plourde said. “Once you see it you just have to make those adjustments and as the game goes on it gets easier.”
Hilbert made a major adjustment by inserting freshman Adriana Culbert into the Wichita State tournament, and has started her in the last three games to sterling results. Culbert finished with six kills, six assists and nine kills against the Sooners.
“In transition or even serve-receive we have a threat from the right side now,” Foss said. “It opens up our offense and allows us to get more kills.”
CSU moved back above .500 with the win, and regained some of its early season swagger ahead of Friday’s matchup with No. 12 Pepperdine.
“It wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but it was good enough to win against a good team, Hilbert said. “Hopefully we can build on this.”
Assistant Sports Editor Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.