Maryland — The No. 12-ranked CSU Rams volleyball team may not
have been happy about being forced to travel to Maryland for its
first and second round games in the NCAA tournament, but they are
thrilled to be heading to Gainesville, Fla., for the regionals.
The Rams swept No. 25 Maryland 3-0 (30-23, 30-28, 30-26)
Saturday at the Comcast Center Gymnasium to earn one of the final
sixteen spots in the national tournament.
CSU out-hit the Terrapins .373 to .198 and compiled 20 more
total kills. The Rams’ balanced attack was led by right side hitter
Andreya Downs, who had a team best 13 kills and .632 hitting
percentage. Setter Melissa Courtney effectively used all of her
options, dishing out 47 assists to seven different attackers.
All-conference middle blocker Katie Jo Shirley returned to the
lineup after missing the team’s first round win Friday against
George Mason with a shoulder injury. Aside from hitting .500 and
slamming eight kills, Shirley allowed the team to play within its
typical rotation – with Downs attacking on the right side.
“Attacking the ball from that side of the court was a big part
of our offensive game plan,” said CSU coach Tom Hilbert. “We knew
if we attacked that side of the court we would have pretty good
success and it worked for us.”
CSU trailed in the second game by scores of 15-5, 18-9 and
28-24, but came back to earn the final six points of the game, and
headed to intermission with an almost insurmountable 2-0 lead.
“I remember looking at the scoreboard thinking that this isn’t
over,” Downs said. “I know that Maryland is thinking we have a
10-point lead, and a lot of times in those situations your opponent
gets very comfortable, and that’s when you just flip it and you
make two or three points and they get worried and shaky. We are a
strong enough team that if someone does that to us, we are going to
come back full force.”
The Rams benefited from a sub-par performance from Maryland
middle blocker Rachel Wagener. The Atlantic Coast Conference’s
blocking leader suffered from food poisoning and contributed only
two blocks and a minus-.111 hitting percentage. She did not have
any kills in the match. Right side hitter Lynnsy Jones led the
Terrapins with 15 kills, four digs and three service aces.
Reserve outside hitter Casey Bauer had her best performance of
the season for the Rams. She hit .500 and collected seven kills,
four digs and two aces.
Friday the Rams pounced George Mason, 3-0 (30-22, 30-24, 30-25),
as outside hitter Becky Sarauer slammed 14 kills and outside hitter
Tess Rogers added 13. Colorado State held three-time Continental
Athletic Association Player of the Year Aline Pereira to 12 kills
by forcing Patriot setter Jesica Umansky to spread the offense.
The Rams will head to Florida next weekend for a match-up with
No. 3 Florida, a team that Hilbert admits is more athletic than his
squad. CSU looks forward to defending its 23-match wining streak
against the Gators.
“To be going to the Sweet 16 is really exciting,” setter Melissa
Courtney said. “We know it’s going to be hard and this week in
practice we are going to have to work hard, but I think we are just
enjoying the fact that we won tonight and are moving on to the next