Everything seems to be falling into place for the CSU volleyball team to make a run deep into the NCAA tournament.
The Rams are scheduled to leave later today for Ann Arbor, Mich., to travel to their first round match against Illinois State on Friday night. Not only is CSU ranked as a 14 seed in the tournament, much higher than the team expected, but they were put into a bracket with teams they have already faced this season.
Coach Tom Hilbert thinks that the elements are in place for something special to happen.
“I am hoping so,” he said. “I would like to have a great run in the tournament. I feel like we still have some work to peak, but the excitement of the tournament will sometimes do that for you.
Middle blocker Mekana Barnes thinks the Rams were placed in a favorable bracket.
“I don’t want to say we are lucky, but we are grateful for the bracket we got. We match up well against these teams,” the newly crowned Mountain West Player of the year said. “If we play hard, we are going to have success against them.”
Outside hitter Jamie Strauss, who has been to two previous tournaments with CSU, said that the team doesn’t want to settle for just making the tournament for a 13th-straight season. Instead, they want to make it deep.
“I have been there every since I was freshman and we have lost every time in the first or
second round,” the junior said. “We really want to get past that hurdle.”
In 2005, the Rams beat rival Colorado only to lose to Washington in the second round. Last season, CSU was again knocked out by the Huskies, that time in the first round.
Libero Katelin Batten said that the team has a golden opportunity and that amazing things will happen if the Rams are on their game.
“I feel like our team has a nice opportunity now,” she sophomore said. “They put us in a really good position where we can come out and win this. Anybody can beat anybody. We have the capability of making the final four.”
Volleyball beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com
Post Season Honors
All Conference- Jamie Strauss junior OH, Tonya Mokelki senior OH, Mekana Barnes junior MB, Ashley Fornstrom junior Setter,
Setter of the Year- Ashley Fornstrom
Mountain West Player of the Year- Mekana Barnes
Coach of the Year- Tom Hilbert