Sep 232004
 
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

If there’s one CSU team to watch this weekend, it’s the

volleyball team.

“This is a very special group of players,” said head coach Tom

Hilbert. “Teams like this don’t come around that often. This is

going to be one of the best teams at CSU. People need to watch

them.”

CSU has the statistics to back up that sentiment.

The No. 9 Rams (8-1), looking to repeat as Mountain West

Conference champions, have won their last eight matches and hope to

continue the streak this weekend.

The Rams enter conference play against Air Force (3-4) at 7

tonight and face New Mexico (6-4) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Moby

Arena.

“They’re going to be exciting games,” said junior right-side

hitter Dre Downs.

AFA and UNM will offer tales of two very different teams with

one goal: to upset the Rams.

The Falcons are a more experienced team this year; six of seven

probable starters are juniors and seniors. The Falcons have lost

the last 19 matches to the Rams and are 1-19 all-time against CSU,

but Hilbert doesn’t think the team will shy away.

“(Conference teams) don’t care about a ranking; they know us as

CSU,” Hilbert said. “There’s no intimidation factor. They’ll come

in and play hard with no risk.”

The Falcons might look a little rusty tonight after not having

played since Sept. 14, when they lost to Northern Colorado, but the

Rams expect the team to put up a fight.

“They’re a really fast team,” said senior middle blocker Katie

Jo Shirley-Cahoon. “They’re going to go out and try to upset

us.”

When the Lobos roll into town Saturday night, the Rams will face

another challenge on the court.

The Lobos, 20-26 lifetime against CSU, are also getting quality

performances from their middle blockers. Junior Chelsea Sondrup and

freshman Samie Weber are tied with a team-best .295 hitting

average, and the other hitters aren’t far behind. Sophomore

right-side hitter Kelly Therkelsen has a .252 average with 3.28

kills per game.

“They’re a young team,” said CSU sophomore libero Kristen

Karlik. “They’re the underdog and they have nothing to lose.”

Hilbert also hopes the crowd support continues at home for both

games this weekend.

“CSU accounts for 44 percent of the attendance in the Mountain

West,” Hilbert said. “We like playing here. We want the students at

CSU to be proud of this team. This core group has worked very hard

for this year.”

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