Leading the Mountain West in eight different categories, going undefeated at home and having just one conference loss have all contributed to the CSU volleyball team’s No. 21 national ranking. But before any of that happened, it was the team’s ability to recruit that helped earn it such success.
Although they won’t give specific names, the Rams coaching staff has already received commitments for three athletes to play at CSU next season.
CSU coach Tom Hilbert stressed that 99 percent of his team’s success has come from good recruiting.
“The match is about players and you get players from recruiting,” he said. “Really, you have to have great athletes and recruiting gets more difficult every year.”
Hilbert and his staff spend an estimated 20 weekends a year away from campus recruiting players. They find talent in many different areas but use club tournaments featuring as many as 5,000 athletes as a starting point. From there the staff looks for a specific type of player.
“We want to play high and have athletes that are fast and jump well,” Hilbert said. “We also look at arm swing and coordination. If they can do those things, even if they aren’t already a pretty good volleyball player, we believe we can teach them how to be. Once we see that physical standard, then we are looking for some character elements.”
Part of assistant coach Jesse Mahoney’s job is centered around finding new players. The former Fort Hayes head coach said that recruiting has especially helped this season’s team.
“There is not one class that is better than the other. Tom (Hilbert) has done a nice job year in and year out brining quality athletes to this program. Our freshman class is just a fantastic group.”
The current Rams team features two seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen that have all played significant time.
Freshman outside hitter Jacque Davisson said she chose CSU not just because of the volleyball team.
“Tom (Hilbert) found me through the father of a girl I used to play with,” she said. “They contacted me knowing that I was interested in veterinary medicine and invited me to check out the school. This was the best opportunity I thought I had, especially with the coaching staff. The second I walked onto campus and met all the girls, I felt I belonged here.”
CSU grabbed Davisson away from other volleyball powerhouses including Washington State, Nevada-Las Vegas, California Davis and New Mexico State.
When it comes down to decision time for recruits, Mahoney said that it’s the Rams’ track record that attracts athletes the most.
“A lot of what we offer goes along with the tradition here,” Mahoney said. “Success breed success and kids want to go somewhere they have an opportunity to win.”
Volleyball beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com
Catch the next match
What: Ram volleyball
Who: BYU @ CSU
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Moby Arena
Mountain West Conference Volleyball Standings
Colorado State 7-1 13-4
UNLV 6-2 15-3
BYU 5-3 13-5
New Mexico 5-3 14-6
TCU 4-4 17-7
Utah 4-4 7-10
SDSU 3-5 11-8
Wyoming 2-6 8-9
Air Force 0-8 7-15