May 012005
Authors: Joelle Milholm

After what volleyball head coach Tom Hilbert called "a process," sophomore Kristen Karlik, the starting libero for the past two seasons for the Rams, has decided to leave the team.

"I kind of lost my passion for the game," Karlik told The Fort Collins Coloradoan on Saturday. "It took me a while to truly understand why I wasn't happy. The environment I was in was unhealthy for me; that wasn't who I wanted to be."

CSU has not released any information on why Karlik left, and Hilbert refused to talk about Karlik's reason for leaving.

Karlik, who was unable to be reached for comment, will finish the spring semester at CSU, but she is unsure where she will transfer next year or if she will play volleyball again in college, according to the Coloradoan.

Starting each of CSU's 103 games in the 2004 season, Karlik led the team in digs, averaging 3.42 per game. With starting setter Melissa Courtney graduating, Hilbert will now have to find someone to fill two starting spots.

"The libero and setting position are critical and she (Karlik) could have played either one for us," Hilbert said.

During the off-season, Hilbert recruited three incoming freshman, including libero Kelsey Hoff. Hoff, who helped lead Weld Central High School's volleyball team to the semifinals last season, is expected to fill Karlik's spot. Karlik faced a similar situation her freshman year, when an injury to Lindsey Kerr landed her the starting role.

Joining Hoff as new Rams in the fall will be Jaime Strauss and Ashley Fornstrom, who all played together for the Northern Colorado (NORCO) club volleyball team. Hilbert thinks all three will be great additions to the program.

"She (Jaime) can ball handle and do it all," Hilbert said. "These players are going to add a lot to our team."

The team will look to junior Katherine Whitney, who played in 71 games last season, as the new setter.

"Katherine Whitney played well last year and will have to step up next year," Hilbet said.

Three seniors, Casey Bauer, Dre Downs and Tess Rogers, will return to the squad next season.

"We have three outstanding seniors who are as good as any of the seniors we are going to see in the Mountain West," Hilbert said.

The remaining spots on the young roster belong to two juniors and four sophomores. Hilbert said the team could be successful, but he also realizes that inexperience will be a factor.

"We are in a rebuilding stage in the next two years," Hilbert said.

The Rams will begin their season on Sept. 2 in the Pepperdine Classic.

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