The CSU volleyball team came out Tuesday and dominated in-state competitor Northern Colorado. In their toughest competition of the season so far, the Rams proved themselves after a difficult first set.
CSU defeated UNC in its third sweep of the season (25-23,25-12,25-13). In a struggling set one, the Rams came close to their first set loss of the season.
Head Coach Tom Hilbert’s face said it all. The Rams were struggling.
One after the other, spikes were sent beyond the baseline and blocks were deflected out of bounds. In Saturday’s game against Cal Poly, CSU showed their first struggles with blocking, which continued into Tuesday’s game.
Although the Rams continued to rally points on their jump servers, freshman Michelle Lawrence on the outside pulled through for the Rams: collecting five kills on her 11 attempts in set one.
“Out on the court, I don’t feel the nervousness I felt in the first 15 points against Baylor,” Lawrence said. “Especially with the one-on-one block, it made it so we could hit floor-style hits.”
Lawrence was a player Deedra Foss could rely on Tuesday, hitting .519 percent and 16 kills.
“For a true freshman out there playing, she was getting I thought sets that were in good tempos for her,” Hilbert said. “She did a really good job at picking shots and managing her game.”
Throughout the battle of set one, CSU and UNC tied seven times, but when CSU stepped back onto the court for the second frame, the Rams meant business.
Quiet in set one, sophomore Adrianna Culbert come out firing with six kills out of her seven attempts. Between Culbert’s and Lawrence’s kills, CSU was able to transition back and put the block on UNC.
Only allowing four kills on their 32 attempts, CSU held the Bears to a -.062 hitting percentage in set two, concluding its home stretch on a 3-0 record after holding UNC to 13 points in set three.
“This was an interesting match,” Hilbert said. “The first set obviously was very close. We got blocked a bunch of times in that first set, it became evident from the very beginning that both teams were going to try and serve each other extremely tough.”
Tuesday night the Rams proved their worth competing against a team who defeated the same Baylor and Cal Poly teams over the weekend, now they prepare for their first weekend on the road.
“I think what’s more crutial is, like Tom said, the serving and passing game,” sophomore Jamie Colaizzi said. “If we can win that, I think we can beat anyone. And obviously playing on the road is more of a challenge, but its just something we need to conquer and hopefully we can do that early.”
Traveling to Malibu, Calif. for three games, the Rams will face Virginia, UC Santa Barbara and Pepperdine.
This is the second consecutive year that CSU came into the season with three sweeps going into their first weekend on the road. Last season, CSU lost every game on the road following their three wins.
“I am not promising we are going to sweep a road deal, I think we will go play well,” Hilbert said. “I think it will go better than last year.”
Volleyball Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at email@example.com.