PROVO -- That Colorado State won the inaugural Mountain West Conference tournament championship at BYU was not a major surprise.

It was how the Rams won it that left many observers amazed.Instead of a prolonged, nip-and-tuck five-game battle, as some expected, CSU swept BYU, 15-8, 15-8, 15-12, at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday, halting the Cougars' 28-match home winning streak, and was awarded the MWC women's volleyball tournament trophy.

To celebrate their impressive accomplishment, Ram players dumped a jug of ice water on coach Tom Hilbert's head. He didn't seem to mind one bit.

"I'm still two feet above the ground right now," Hilbert said a half-an-hour after the match. "Our players played an exceptional game. They're warriors."

In handing the Cougars their first 3-0 defeat at home since 1995, the Rams thoroughly dominated. They shut down two of BYU's weapons, MWC Player of the Year Nina Puikkonen and outside hitter Caroline Bower. "We executed our game plan to a T'," Hilbert said.

With the victory, CSU improved to 28-2 (the most wins in school history) and won the season series against the regular-season MWC champions, BYU. Now, both BYU and CSU can claim they are inaugural MWC champions.

As for the Cougars (26-4), well, they hit only .177 for the match and, unlike the Rams, did not play like a team with a title at stake.

Not that they're taking the setback too hard. Like CSU, BYU will be eagerly awaiting the NCAA Tournament selection show (at 8 p.m.

Sunday) to find out where they go from here.

Cougar coach Elaine Michaelis shrugged off the defeat. "Our hats are off to Colorado State," she said. "They had a great game plan and carried it out and we did not. They were better than we were on this particular day."

The No. 12 ranked Rams entered the match on the heels of a thrilling five-game triumph over Utah Friday while the No. 9 Cougars had coasted in their previous two tournament matches against Wyoming and New Mexico. That might have made a difference.

"I think that going five games with Utah helped us," said CSU middle blocker Angela Knopf. "It prepared us to play hard against BYU."

"I felt everything seemed too easy for them," CSU outside hitter Catie Vagneur of BYU's path to the title match. Vagneur was named MWC Tournament Most Valuable Player and recorded a match-high 19 kills. "We were one step ahead of them."

So what went wrong for the Cougars? Let them count the ways.

"We did not carry out our game plan at all," Michaelis said. "Our serve-receive game was really bad. (CSU) didn't have to move to pass the ball. We didn't block or play defense the way we were supposed to.

"They were mixing up their serves a lot," she continued. "They were serving us short, deep, inside and outside. We didn't even have a chance to run our offense."

"We weren't in sync like we usually are," Bower said. "Instead of being the aggressors, we let them be the aggressors."

"I was surprised we didn't come out and play harder and I'm not sure why (we did not)," Michaelis said.

From the outset, the Cougars looked sluggish. The Rams opened up a 5-0 advantage before BYU had even broken a sweat. The Cougars fought back to a 7-7 tie, but CSU closed them out by scoring eight of the next nine points. That was the theme of the match.

BYU tied the Rams at 8 in game two, then watched the Rams rattle off seven consecutive points for the win. Down 7-3 to BYU in game three, the Rams turned things around by scoring 10 straight points to take a 13-7 advantage.

"One of our goals was not to let them score more than two points in a row," Hilbert said. "They only did that one time."

The Cougars tried to creep back into game three, pulling within 13-10, but CSU eventually slammed the door on a potential BYU comeback on a resounding kill by Knopf to end the game and match.

Despite the defeat, Michaelis is not concerned that the loss will affect her team's seeding in the NCAAs. "Maybe (CSU) will get to go to Penn State instead of us," she said, referring to the fact the Cougars have been eliminated from the NCAAs at Penn State the past two seasons. Michaelis is hopeful that the Cougars will be a host school when 64-team NCAA Tournament play begins Dec. 2-5. First and second round matches will be held at the sites of the highest-seeded teams.

Hilbert also hopes the upset of BYU opens some eyes on the tournament committee. "We would like to host at our place," he said. "We've proven we can win at home and on the road. We deserve the chance."

Four CSU players earned All-Tournament honors -- Knopf, Vagneur, Summer Jennings and Courtney Cox -- while Allison Peckham was named outstanding setter and Kristen Vance was the outstanding defensive specialist.

BYU's Puikkonen and Utah's McKelle Stilson were also included on the All-Tournament team.