Volleyball set for season

Aug 122010
Authors: Kyle Grabowski

Sequels rarely live up to the original, but CSU Volleyball looks to top last season’s Sweet Sixteen campaign in 2010.
Following a 25-6 season, which ended in an NCAA Tournament loss to Minnesota, the Rams continued their hard work during the offseason.

“We went through some pretty tough workouts,” outside hitter Danielle Minch said. “There was some heavy lifting scheduled three times a day.”

Even with all of the hard work, however, CSU was forced to persevere through adversity.

Setter Evan Sanders broke her ankle during the spring, which presented challenges both for the team and her, individually.

“There were some tempo things we didn’t get to do without our starting setter (Sanders),” coach Tom Hilbert said, “but we worked on non-setters setting, and that helped us in other ways.”

Sanders participated in USA Volleyball’s National A2 Program, which met on May 24 in Tempe, Ariz. Her ankle, however, limited her physically.

“It was a different experience for me,” she said. “It was more of a learning experience; learning maturity, leadership and what setters are capable of doing.”

After last season’s unexpected success, the Rams and their fans have high hopes for 2010.

“They’re the same expectations every year,” Hilbert said. “We want to improve as the year goes on and play our best in November and December.”

“Obviously the public’s expectations are going to be high, but we can’t get caught up in that. We just have to go out there and try to win the next match.”

Even with much expected of them, the Rams don’t plan to cripple under the pressure.

“It’s not something we’re going to back down from,” Sanders said. “We know we have a target on our back, and we don’t want it any other way.”

CSU opens the season on Aug. 27 against Duke, a team the Rams lost to 3-1 in Durham, N.C. last season. The Blue Devils made the NCAA Tournament last year, losing in the first round to Tennessee.

“There’s a little sense of payback,” Minch said.

“They beat us last year,” Hilbert added, “so this is a chance to rectify that and play better. We want to get our fans fired up and test our team early.”

Even with the added pressure of a previous successful season, Hilbert feels optimistic.

“We need to improve defensively,” he said, “but we have the maturity and talent to win the Mountain West Conference.”

Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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