FORT COLLINS, Colo. – In what many have been calling a rebuilding year for Colorado State's volleyball program, the Rams (1-0, 0-0 MW) kicked off the 2013 campaign in emphatic fashion, sweeping the Baylor Bears – 25-12, 25-11, 25-16 – Friday night at Moby Arena.
"The first match of the year with a team as inexperienced as this one is, you couldn't have asked for a better overall performance," Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. "We stayed playing at a very high level throughout all three sets, and that is a mark of a very good team."
The Bears (0-1, 0-0 Big 12) had no match for the Rams' outside hitting as Colorado State racked up 53 kills in the match on .529 hitting. The hitting percentage was the fifth-best in program history, and the highest since hitting .534 vs. BYU on Oct. 6, 2001. The Rams also committed just seven attack errors, the fewest in four seasons.
Junior outside hitter Marlee Reynolds, who has stepped into the left-side outside hitter role left vacated by Dana Cranston, led the way for the Rams with 13 kills on .524 hitting. The 13 kills nearly doubled Reynolds' previous career best (7), which was set in last year's opener, vs. Virginia (Aug. 24).
"I'm really happy with Marlee because she asserted herself physically today," Hilbert said. "If she has this kind of attitude every match she's going to do the right things."
Also in double figures for the Rams was sophomore outside hitter Adrianna Culbert who finished the match with 11 kills, and junior middle blocker Kelsey Snider who notched 10 kills.
Junior setter Deedra Foss helped pave the way for her attackers with 39 assists, in addition to a team-high 10 digs. Sophomore Jaime Colaizzi finished with nine digs, while Kaitlind Bestgen and Culbert each had six.
The Rams also got a key contribution from freshman outside hitter Michelle Lawrence who posted eight kills on .438 hitting in her first collegiate match and earned the praises of her coach.
"She is physical," Hilbert said of his freshman outside hitter. "She is Dana (Cranston) in terms of her ability and stature. She just has to become a better player in terms of experience."
CSU utilized a strong serving game as well as really tough defense in the match to help the team gain separation from Baylor in each set.
"We served very well, and I knew that would be a weapon for us," Hilbert said. "We were serving tough and that is a very important weapon, and it's going to be one for us for the whole year."
For the match, Baylor recorded just 23 kills and had 17 attack errors as the Rams limited the Bears' attack to .071 hitting.
"The right-back defenders today were better than I've seen in many, many years," Hilbert said. "I'm happy about it, and I want to challenge these guys to play that well every time they go out on the court."
The Rams return to the court on Saturday night when they take on the Cal Poly Mustangs at 7 p.m. MT at Moby Arena.