Ann Arbor- The CSU volleyball team proved that they deserved their 14 seed status in the NCAA tournament by dominating Illinois State in the first round Friday night.
The Rams defeated the Redbirds in three games 30-26, 30-20 and 30-15.
Head coach Tom Hilbert was proud of the effort he got from his team and explained that they played an all around solid match.
“We served and passed well and we didn’t hit very many unforced errors,” he said. “That allowed us to extend the game and our blocking to take over. We did a nice job today and our players maintained that through the match.”
The Rams only trailed twice during the entire match. Outside hitter Jamie Strauss and middle blocker Tessa Nelson led the way for the Rams, throwing down 10 kills each. Setter Ashley Fornstrom also had an impressive match, posting 38 assists and eight digs.
ISU head coach Sharon Dingman explained that CSU’s experience in the tournament helped them.
“CSU is just a really good volleyball team,” she said. “They could kill the ball and played like a team that has been in the tournament for 13 straight seasons.”
Sophomore Katelin Batten, who broke her single season record for saves during the match, said that the Rams defense was a key reason to the victory.
“We have been focusing and putting a lot of emphasis on defense now and out working the other team,” she said.
In the match CSU posted 68 digs and 17 blocks.
Batten added that no one should be surprised that the CSU won.
“It was expected of us,” the libero said. “We were confident going in and Michigan is going to be tough tomorrow, if they win.”
The Wolverines advanced to the second round by defeating Miami (OH) in three games during their first round match up 30-16, 30-18 and 30-27. UM was impressive in the victory hitting a combined .415 attack percentage.
This will be the second time the two teams have met this year. In their first meeting, UM defeated the Rams beat four games in CSU’s third match of the season.
Outside hitter Jamie Strauss thinks that won’t have any effect on the possible round two match up.
“Michigan probably thinks that they can beat us, but we are a different team than we were in the preseason,” the junior said. “I am sure Miami (OH) is to. Whatever happens we aren’t going to go in overconfident, we are just going to have to work hard.”
Tommorows match tips off at 5 pm in Ann Arbor.
Volleyball beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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