The CSU volleyball season is over.
The Rams were swept by the Florida Gators 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-23) Saturday night in Gainesville, Fla. in the second round of the NCAA tournament, ending CSU’s season in the tournament’s second round for consecutive years.
CSU ran into a Florida team much improved from when the two met back in September at Moby Arena. The Gators held CSU to a .205 hitting percentage, while blocking the Rams nine times.
“They improved a lot since we played them earlier in the season,” said head coach Tom Hilbert. “They made many fewer mistakes. They are extremely talented and have some giant recruits.”
Senior Mekana Barnes led all players with 10 kills on .350 hitting. Fellow senior, Jaime Strauss recorded nine kills and 10 digs. The last of the trio of seniors, Ashley Fornstrom, tallied 36 assists.
Hilbert said the seniors played their hearts out and were great contributors to the team for each of their four years.
“They (three seniors) are just great kids,” said Hilbert. “All three of them are from 75 miles from Fort Collins and all have been starters here for four years. Their teams have gotten better each year, they have been fun to coach and it’s been fun to watch them grow.”
Down 0-2, CSU would not go without a fight in the third set, as the Rams jumped out to a 6-3 lead. Barnes tallied three straight kills to run the score to 9-6. CSU held a minor lead the rest of the way until Florida blocked a Jacque Davisson attack to take the lead 22-21.
The Rams put themselves in position for the win on a Barnes block to take the 23-22 lead. Florida though tallied three straight points for the win.
“In sets one and three, we were playing well but we just couldn’t score critical points,” said Hilbert. “We made some mistakes at those times and they didn’t make any and that was a big key.”
Florida now will travel to Ft. Collins and play the winner of the Stanford-Long Beach State match on Friday at Moby Arena.
CSU finishes its season with a record of 23-7; its 14th straight season with 20 or more wins.