Perhaps one of the brightest spots when it comes to CSU sports shines on us by way of the volleyball team. The Rams spent much of the season in the top 10 going 26-4 with a 13-1 record in the conference. They finished the year ranked No. 19.
Now a look at the 2005 season reveals the challenge to live up to last year's near perfect run in the Mountain West Conference (MWC). CSU is currently ranked No. 22 according to the CSTV/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Preseason poll.
Head coach Tom Hilbert enters the season just six wins shy of 400 for his career.
CSU opens their season today in Malibu, Calif., against Cal State Northridge. They will play another match Saturday morning against Northern Iowa before their first real test of the year against host team and No.25 ranked Pepperdine that same day. The Rams have won their last two against Pepperdine, but have struggled against them in Malibu in recent history.
"Northridge is a lot better than we expected," Hilbert said. "But all the teams this weekend will be good, competitive."
The Rams will return to Colorado for a road match against Denver before heading to Moby to host the Hilton Classic. This will include six games with their toughest challenge against Florida A&M on Sept. 17. The Rattlers finished last season in the top 25 for the first time in school history after a very impressive season finishing 28-3 including a 27-game winning streak.
Mountain West play begins on the road this season for the Rams as they will be matched up against San Diego State and UNLV Sept. 22 and 24.
Utah and BYU, picked to finish No.1 and No. 2 in the MWC Coaches Preseason Poll will prove to be tough opponents for CSU, but the benefit of a manageable schedule and the return of players such as seniors Casey Bauer, Tess Rogers and Dre Downs will give the Rams confidence.
The Rams will host BYU on Oct. 7 and Utah on Oct. 9.
The first meeting with newly acquired conference foe TCU will take place on Oct. 25, in Fort Worth, Texas. The Horned Frogs will make their conference debut in Fort Collins as part of a three game home stand for the Rams where they will close the regular season against Air Force before entering the MWC Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev.
"It's a tough schedule and it will certainly help measure our improvements," Downs said.