Jan 152010
Authors: Matt Stephens

One of the only regrets I’ve had while working for the Collegian is that I never got to cover CSU volleyball.

After transferring from the University of Arkansas my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to cover football, golf, swimming, softball and both basketball teams, but not volleyball.

But, as sports editor this year, and through sharing classes with members of the CSU volleyball team over the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know some of these young ladies.

As a student here at Colorado State, I can tell you right now that no group of individuals deserves the success that the Rams are having more than this year’s volleyball team, and I am proud to have them represent my university heading into the Sweet 16 on Friday.

Whether it’s on the court, in the classroom or around the community, their overall commitment to excellence and doing it with class is why they are the best team on campus.

For all intents and purposes, this is the “big year.”

In case you missed it, the CSU volleyball team earned, arguably, the biggest win in program history on Friday when the Rams defeated No. 6 Washington 3-1 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, advancing to regional play for the first time since 2003.

For the Huskies, CSU’s spoiler prohibited Washington from reaching the Elite Eight for only the second time in six years.

If that doesn’t impress you, let me break it down into basketball terms.

Both the volleyball and basketball NCAA Tournaments have 64 teams in their fields, but while basketball seeds every team, in all four regions, one through 16, volleyball only seeds the top 16 schools (for you diamond junkies, it’s similar to the NCAA Baseball Tournament’s process).

This translates to CSU being the No. 7 seed in the Minneapolis region, upsetting the No. 2 seed (Washington), allowing the Rams to take over that ranking.

Now comes the tough part. This will be the fifth time the Rams have made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, but never have they advanced on to the Elite Eight. In fact, CSU has never won more than one set during their Regional Semifinal berths.

With their next match being against 11th seeded Minnesota, the Minneapolis Regional’s host school, the Rams have their work cut out for them.

But, CSU shouldn’t be without support from those in the gold and green on Friday in the Twin Cities.

Senior middle blocker Tessa Nelson reigns from Balaton, Minn., and says that at least 50 of her family members who live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes will be in attendance.

Standout redshirt freshman Meghan Plourde is from Somerset, Wisc. and Lisa Parlich and Michelle Smith are fellow Wisconsinites.

Kate Steffan is a native of North Dakota and the Mountain West Conference’s Libero of the Year, Katelin Batten, was born in Iowa before moving to Colorado at age 12. Both of their families will be in attendance.

It goes without saying that there will be strong CSU support at Minnesota’s Sports Pavilion (yes, that’s what it’s actually called) Friday.

We have all been witness to what a strong crowd at Moby Arena can do for this volleyball team. Think about the impact a crowd of Ram fans could make in a facility smaller and more prone to noise than what’s here in Fort Collins.

I understand that this is asking a lot from the student body, especially the weekend prior to finals, but we’re in college and have the desire to be adventurous!

Is it too much to ask for CSU students to make the 14-hour drive to Minneapolis on for Friday’s 6 p.m. match (7 p.m. CST)? Most of us upperclassmen don’t have tough finals anyway, just projects we’ve had all semester to turn in.

Don’t you want to be a part of this university’s history? Pile four of your friends in a car, split gas costs and driving time so you can at least get some studying in, deck out in green and scream it from the top of your lungs:

I’m proud to be a CSU Ram!

Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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