Match notes: Three-match road stretch key for Rams

Nov. 12, 2012

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By Gary Ozzello

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The stretch drive is on. And so is Tom Hilbert’s quest for career victory No. 400 at Colorado State.

Hilbert’s Rams face a critical three-match road trip this week, playing at Northern Colorado Tuesday night in a non-conference match, then facing Air Force (Thursday) and Boise State (Saturday) to complete the three-match trip.

CSU is seeking an 18th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, and returns home to close the regular season by playing host to New Mexico Nov. 23 on Senior Night.

But before that takes place, important business is at hand. When the Rams face UNC, Hilbert will be bidding for his 400th career coaching victory on the Colorado State sidelines. His team enters the match 17-7 overall, and has won 11 straight in the in-state rivalry with the Bears. Video streaming for the match will be available. The match will also be broadcast on CET on a tape delay basis, airing Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. MT.

When the Rams return to conference action at Air Force two nights later at 6 p.m., CSU wants to remain in the thick of the Mountain West title hunt. Hilbert’s squad has won three conference titles in a row, and currently is 10-3 in league play, half a match behind Mountain West leader San Diego State (11-3).

As with the UNC series, CSU has history on its side. The Rams are 38-1 all-time against the Falcons, including a three-set sweep at Moby Arena three weeks ago. The Rams last lost to Air Force in 1982 in the first match between the teams. In fact, Colorado State enters Thursday night’s match with a streak of 16 straight three-set sweeps, and 38 straight wins overall.

Thursday’s match will also be available via video subscription.

The Rams complete the road trip Saturday, facing Boise State at 7 p.m., in the team’s final road match of the regular season. CSU has won three of its last four road matches after opening the year 0-5 away from Moby Arena. The Rams swept the Broncos in Moby Arena last month and have won all five of its meetings with the Broncos via sweep.

Several Rams continue to reach career milestones as the season continues. Megan Plourde became just the third Ram to surpass 1,000 career kills and 500 total blocks in the four-set win over Fresno State last Saturday. She currently has 1,011 kills and 595 career blocks, the latter figure just 35 shy of the school’s all-time record.

Teammate Izzy Gaulia, like Plourde a senior, currently ranks sixth in school history in digs and figures to conclude her career among the top three all-time. She already owns the school’s career record for single-match and single-season digs.

Dana Cranston last week was named to the Capital One Academic District VII first team, after earning second-team honors the past two years. Cranston, also a senior, is one of only four student-athletes in Mountain West history to earn Academic All-District honors all three years a player is eligible. She is also one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award, recognizing senior student-athletes who excel on the court, in the classroom, in the community and have great character.  

Fans can still vote for Cranston daily at