Aug 282008
 
Authors: Matthew Pucak

While many CSU students have their eyes focused on Denver this weekend for the Rocky Mountain Showdown, they shouldn’t look past the show the Rams volleyball team and three other schools will put on in Moby Arena.

The Rams host the 21st Hilton Classic this weekend, kicking off their 2008 season with games against the Arkansas Razorbacks, Denver Pioneers and Eastern Washington Eagles.

The Rams open against the Razorbacks tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Moby, their first game in a season that starts with them ranked as the No. 17 team in the nation, according to Division I coaches.

The Rams then play twice on Saturday, first at noon against Denver and then at 7:30 p.m. against Eastern Washington.

Rams head coach Tom Hilbert is hoping that the community shows up to support the Rams this weekend, as he expects three tough, entertaining games.

“There has been so much build up for this season. I think we will have a very competitive team this season, and I really think that we play much better when we can build off the crowd in Moby.

“I just hope that anyone out there who hasn’t been to a game will come, because I think they will like what they see,” said Hilbert, in his 12th season at the Rams’ helm.

CSU is also attempting to get students interested in the game, offering rally towels and “Green Machine” t-shirts to the first 500 students that show up Friday night.

The hype the Rams have dealt with includes being ranked No. 17 in the nation and Moby Arena being chosen as a site for the 2008 NCAA regional tournament — a destination the team would like to make, but know that thinking too much about the future won’t help them in the now.

“We have tried, as a team, to keep putting our focus on taking it one game at a time. We don’t want to get caught up in any of the hype. It is important for us to stay focused,” said senior outside hitter Jamie Strauss.

The Rams are led by All-American and MWC Player of the Year Mekana Barnes, one of several standout players for the Rams returning from last year.

But, as a testament to how deep the team is, several standout performers from last season are still in competition to hold on to their spots.

Hilbert stated that his lineup will see some shuffling over the weekend as he tries to figure out the best spots for everyone.

Matthew Pucak can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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