Get ready for some hot bumps, sets and spikes tonight when the
CSU women’s volleyball team hosts the National Association of
Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators tournament, facing No. 5
Minnesota at 7:30 p.m. in Moby Arena.
The No. 11 Rams also welcome No. 12 Georgia Tech and the 2003
National Champions No. 1 Southern California, who will play Friday
at 5 p.m. The losers of the first two matches will play a
consolation match at 5 p.m. on Saturday with the champions’ match
set for 7:30 p.m.
The CSU women’s volleyball team, under head coach Tom Hilbert,
has a 194-41 record in the last eight years. Last season the team
finished undefeated in regular season play and 30-5 overall, losing
in the regional semifinals of NCAA tournament to eventual runner-up
So far the team seems to be on track. All six starters return,
also welcoming five freshmen and a transfer student.
“Practices have been good so far,” Hilbert said. “It’s been very
spirited. They are powerful, strong and in great shape.”
The Rams are looking for a little revenge against Minnesota.
Last year the Rams lost to the Golden Gophers in five games in
Minnesota, though CSU leads the series history 2-1.
“We’re ready to come back for some revenge,” said senior middle
blocker Katie Jo Shirley-Cahoon. “We’re going to have to have our
game on in passing and serving.”
The practices have gotten harder in preparation for that first
match, said junior outside hitter Tess Rogers.
“It’s been intense,” Rogers said of practice. “Since two-a-days,
it’s gotten more intense. We’re playing really well.”
A welcome addition to the team is transfer student sophomore
Katherine Whitney. Whitney, an outside hitter/setter from Seton
Hall, returns home to Colorado after a stellar freshman year in
which she was named Big East Rookie of the Year and Seton Hall
Freshman Athlete of the Year.
“It’s awesome,” Whitney said. “I’m glad to be back in
Whitney, who led the Pirates in kills per game (4.02), digs per
game (3.23) and aces per game (.63), attended Boulder High School
and joins up with her brother, who also attends CSU.
“The girls hit a lot harder (here) and there’s just a lot more
competition,” Whitney said. “I’m excited about that.”
Rogers, who had foot surgery in January, has been in full
practice since mid-July. She needs just four digs to reach 200 in
her CSU career.
Shirley-Cahoon looks to add to her totals as well. Last year she
hit .415 and was responsible for 3.55 kills a game.
Senior setter Melissa Courtney will also be one to watch. She is
the preseason pick to win the Mountain West Conference Player of
the Year award. She averaged 13.18 assists per game and was named
MWC Co-Player of the Year.
Look for the freshmen to contribute to the team as well.
“They’re great,” said Dre Downs, a junior right side hitter.
“They are really fun and add a lot to the team.”
Freshman blocker Mekana Barnes led all 5A Colorado players with
184 blocks last year.
“Mekana has really shown she is more physical,” Hilbert said.
“It’s exciting to watch her.”
Experience is something the Rams hope will factor in the match
against Minnesota. The Gophers lost one of their six starters, but
they return six seniors and eleven letter winners.
“Their outside hitters are the bread and butter of their team,”
Hilbert said. “Bratford and Martin are high jumpers and hard
Senior OH Trisha Bratford racked up .223 hitting percentage with
3.71 kills per game and .77 blocks. Erin Martin, a senior OH, hit
.246 with 3.76 kills per game and was named to the NCAA Pacific
Region All-Tournament team. The Gophers advanced to the Final Four
for the first time in school history last year. They are the
preseason favorite to win the Big Ten Conference.
CSU’s team said it is ready for the first action of the
“Moby is the best place to play, first of all,” Rogers said.
“I’m excited to see all the students and fans. If the crowd
believes in you, you believe in yourself.”
University of Southern California Women of Troy (vs. CSU
In 2003, the Women of Troy won their second consecutive NCAA
Championship and once again are picked as the team to beat. They
have not lost a game since November 2002. They return blocker Emily
Adams, junior middle blocker Bibiana Candelas and Keao Burdine, a
senior outside hitter who was named NCAA Championship MVP for the
second time. Burdine averaged 3.47 kills and 3.01 digs in 2003.
Both Candelas and Adams started all 35 matches and were ranked
among the top five backs in the nation for much of the year, with
Candelas hitting .434 and Adams at .431.
Georgia Tech University Yellow Jackets (vs. CSU 0-2)
Last year the Yellow Jackets started off 23-0, reaching a No. 4
ranking. Senior middle blocker Jayme Gergen was ranked No. 25 in
the nation in hitting percentage at .372 with 2.66 kills. Lynnette
Moster, a senior OH, hit .315 with 4.23 kills per game and 409
digs. She was also named to the All-American Third team. Senor
libero Marisa Aston broke the school record with 520 digs, 3.88 per
Advancing to the Final Four in the 2003 NCAA Championship
Tournament, the Golden Gophers return two All-Big Ten players.
Paula Gentill is a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, a
two-time All-Big Ten selection and a two-time All-American. Lindsey
Taatjes has been named to the All-Big Ten team twice.