In its first road series of the season, CSU was faced with questions about the possibility of a second consecutive year of struggling when playing away from Moby Arena.
Defeating the odds against Pepperdine, Colorado State won the championship game in four sets and after this weekend, the Rams proved this season to be anything but rebuilding.
CSU went 3-0 at the Pepperdine Invitational as they improved its record to 6-0, the first time since 2001.
All in four sets, CSU took care of Virginia(18-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-19), UC-Santa Barbara (28-26, 25-15, 17-25, 25-20) and Pepperdine (25-20,25-20,23-25,25-23).
“I don’t see it as a rebuilding year anymore,” senior Samantha Peters said. “We’re finding our own identity, and it’s great to see that we can win on the road because like I said, we struggled with that last year.”
With three road wins under the belt for the Rams, the once inexperienced CSU team has earned themselves the title as the team to beat.
Nothing could mistake the shout from head coach Tom Hilbert as the Rams scored game point. On live stream coverage, Hilbert jumped off the bench as he knew his team just earned the Pepperdine Invitational champions
“It came to the fourth set, and we stayed close,” Hilbert said. “I kept telling my team we gotta stay close and win in the end. And that is exactly what we did. We came back from a little two point deficit, tied it up, and the last rally of the match was really long. It ended with a Marlee Reynolds kill.”
That kill was Reynolds’ 19th of the night, preventing a fifth set and closing the door on the match 25-23.
“We competed very hard throughout the whole entire game,” Reynolds said. “And everyone was just working harder than the other team. I thought there were some points like where we were getting out-worked … And we kept thinking, work hard, and if we work harder were gonna win the sets.”
On the road, CSU proved to be a team of versatility and efficiency across the court with every hitter playing strong. The Rams offense pushed setter Deedra Foss to put the ball in multiple hands.
Against Virginia, Friday, Peters had 11 kills and Reynolds had 10. In the first game on Saturday, Adrianna Culbert and Reynolds had 13 kills and Kelsey Snider had 10. CSU defeated UC-Santa Barbara: moving to 2-0 on the weekend.
Setting records on the defense, sophomore Jamie Collaizi surpassed her career high of 13 digs compared to her 23 against Pepperdine.
“There’s things also offensively that are going very well,” Hilbert said. “Our outside hitting is significantly better than I thought it was going to be. That’s getting us out of a lot of situations … they’re playing with a lot of maturity.”
CSU was anticipated to finish the season behind San Diego State in the Mountain West in the conference preseason poll. With the 2013 season just two weeks in, the Rams top the MW with a 6-0 record, just ahead of Wyoming (6-1).
Further down the standings: New Mexico(5-1), Utah State(4-2), Boise State(3-2), San Diego State(3-3), UNLV(3-3), Fresno State(2-4) and Air Force/San Jose State are at (1-5) on the season.
Although CSU started the season off strong, it still has yet to face a conference opponent.
“I think that we’re doing some good things,” Hilbert said. ” I think that we’ve got to get better on the blocking team. I think there are some things offensively that we struggle with a few rotations, we’ve got to try and improve on those.”
On a hot streak, the Rams return to Colorado where they will take on the University of Denver at Magness Arena on Tuesday.
Volleyball Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.