The Colorado State volleyball season came to a close Saturday night with a second round loss in the NCAA Tournament at the hands of third-overall-seed Stanford, a national championship favorite.
While ending the season on a loss is always a disappointment, the Rams once again carried the torch in 2010 as the most consistent and successful team at CSU.
The Rams captured their 13th Mountain West Conference championship, going 14-2 in conference play. The championship gave the Rams an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, the 22nd overall and 16th consecutive season that CSU has made the tournament.
CSUâ€™s first round victory over Cal State Fullerton marked the fourth straight season that the Rams have advanced to at least the second round of the tournament.
And there were many memorable moments along the way.
The first came on opening night when CSU hosted eventual ACC champion and NCAA Tournament participant Duke. The Rams billed the evening as â€œwhite-outâ€ night and provided white t-shirts to a Moby Arena volleyball record crowd of 6,333 that witnessed a 3-1 win for the home team.
Coach Tom Hilbert made some history of his own on Nov. 4 when the Rams defeated UNLV at Moby Arena. The win marked the 353rd victory in Hilbertâ€™s CSU career, leading him past legendary basketball coach Jim Williams for most wins in CSU history.
The Rams were able to string together a 13-game winning streak during the season and defeated all of their local rivals in straight sets to continue their dominance of the region.
During the season, CSU faced five opponents that would go on to make the NCAA Tournament, including the No.1 overall seed Florida Gators.
The matches such as the ones against Florida and Stanford are the types of opponents Hilbert would like to see more of in the future.
â€œI really want to play more teams of this caliber as we try to grow this program,â€ Hilbert said. â€œThese are the types of opponents you need to play.â€
There were also some disappointments along the way. CSU dropped a non-conference match at home to Long Beach State that the Rams felt was winnable.
CSU also lost two games in the final three weeks of the season, preventing it from achieving the goal of a perfect conference record.
The end of the season brings the departure of some key seniors, including one of the most popular players at CSU, Jacque Davisson.
â€œIt was a great season,â€ Davisson said. â€œI had a great four years in this program.â€
Also departing will be Danielle Minch, who won her second consecutive MWC Player of the Year award in 2010.
As they do every year, the volleyball team will regroup and come back ready to make another run towards the tournament after another successful season in which the Rams finished 26-5.
â€œIt was a great season,â€ Hilbert said. â€œWe won the Mountain West Conference and did the things we needed to do.â€
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.