They knew this would be the toughest stretch they would encounter all season, and when it was all said and done, the CSU volleyball team wrapped up its most challenging road test exactly the way it had intended.
After winning a five-set encounter at UNLV just two days prior, the Rams traveled to San Diego State on Saturday to redeem the loss they were handed at Peterson Gymnasium by the Aztecs just a year ago.
However this time it was CSU which came out on top in four frames (19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-17) continuing the Rams’ 17-match unbeaten streak, good for the second-best start in program history.
“It’s about coming out and executing the way that we know we can, and we certainly saw that out of them tonight,” head coach Tom Hilbert said after Saturday’s match. “These have been two tough, great teams we’ve seen on this trip and we knew that coming in.”
CSU found itself in a position it had yet to see all season on Saturday night — trailing an opponent. The Aztecs came began the match strong, taking the first set from the Rams and following it up with giving them another close fight in the second.
SDSU continued its opening punch with developing another, going up by five points in the second set. But it was CSU’s 6-1 run to end the frame that allowed it to overcome the five-point deficit, the largest it has faced all season.
“”They came out on fire, it was a great match. We stayed very consistent through the entire match and I was very pleased with how we responded, especially in that second set where we simply outplayed them from an offensive standpoint,” Hilbert said.
The Rams found their offensive groove thanks to the performances of Marlee Reynolds and Samantha Peters. Reynolds led the team with 18 kills while Peters also contributed 13. The middle blockers continue to present a strong effort as they have all year.
On the other side of the ball, CSU’s defensive success was a product of team blocking and the game performance of libero Jaime Colaizzi.
Peters posted nine blocks, the most on the team followed by Reynolds’ career-high seven. Kelsey Snider also tallied four, giving the Rams the edge in team blocking 13-11 over SDSU. Colaizzi posted 20 digs for the second straight match.
“Jaime Colaizzi stepped it up at the end of every set. She was making big plays to extend rallies, she was really good defensively,” Hilbert said.
CSU remains one of only two teams in the nation wearing an undefeated record, the other being Missouri. The Rams’ next matchup will be against Fresno State on Thursday at Moby Arena, where they have won 16 straight.
“We show weaknesses every day, but I do think this is a very good team,” Hilbert said. “We’re not talking to our team about being undefeated; we’re not telling them they’re supposed to be winning. All we’re doing is preparing for the next match and looking at each match as a challenge. You just have to be mature and play each match; and that’s what they’re doing.”
Sports Editor Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @QSickafoose.