Bring it on

 Uncategorized
Aug 262004
 
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

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

Florida.

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

Colorado.”

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

hitters.”

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

year.

“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

6-3)

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

game.

Minnesota

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.

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