It appears there might be just a little pressure on the CSU volleyball team this season.
Not only do the Rams have to uphold the legacy of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the last seven years, they have to do it with six new starters to replace the seniors that graduated last year.
The players realize that there is a lot of tradition behind the CSU volleyball program, and they are working hard to keep that momentum going.
“Of course the pressure is going to be high,” said sophomore middle blocker Katie Jo Shirley. “But this is a totally different team, and the best we can hope for is to have a season where we all play hard and do what we know we’re capable of.”
The Rams had to say goodbye to three All-Americans at the conclusion of the 2001 season.
Angela Knopf made first team All-American in both 2000 and 2001, and holds school career records in block assists, total blocks, service aces and hitting percentage.
Michelle Knox, the only returning senior on the team this year, will fill Knopf’s role. She will be looked upon for leadership, and to anchor the middle blocker corp.
Outside hitter Courtney Cox and right side Soraya Santos were also All-Americans who finished their careers with the Rams last season. The Rams will need a strong season from redshirt freshman Andreya Downs, who suffered from foot problems last season and received medical hardship.
The Rams are also without another outside hitter, Chelsea Spotts, who is out with a shoulder injury this season.
“It’s really tough to lose her as a teammate,” Shirley said. “But it’s worse to see her in so much pain.”
Three starting spots still remain on the roster as of now. Coach Tom Hilbert says there are still a few questions that still need answering.
As for the challenge of reaching the tournament once again, the team plans to take the season one game at a time and expect good results.
“We do have expectations to get back to the NCAA Tournament,” Downs said. “But what I’d like to see most is for the team to come together. The wins and losses will take care of themselves”