Nov 302011
 
Authors: Kyle Grabowski

he University of Oregon’s volleyball team plays a lot like its football team — fast.

The CSU volleyball team plays Oregon in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday night in Hawaii, and its primary task will be handling Oregon’s quick attack.

“They run a very fast right side set and they have a great right side player,” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said. “Their setting is excellent.”

Oregon’s sophomore setter Lauren Plum was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team after ranking second in the conference and 10th nationally with 11.7 assists per set.

The setter is very important in a fast offense, as passes travel more quickly and directly than in a “high” offense like CSU runs.

“As a blocker you have more time to see a high set, whereas a fast one you’re constantly almost chasing,” senior outside hitter Katelyn Steffan said.

One possible detriment of whipping balls around that fast is that bad passing more seriously affects how well the offense performs.

“If it’s anywhere not in the perfect location you have to use your wrists and chop around it,” Steffan said.

Making preparation even more difficult is the fact that CSU has only had three days to prepare for Oregon after the tournament field was announced Sunday night.

“The most difficult thing is that we’re getting our scout team practices in the arena we’re going to play in, and we have limited practice time,” Hilbert said. “But so do they, so I don’t think we’re at any disadvantage.”

Fortunately for CSU, playing in the NCAA Tournament isn’t a new experience. The Rams have made 17 consecutive tournaments under Hilbert, and four of their six starters have played in the NCAA Tournament.

“It helps set the wow factor and excitement aside a little bit and get down to business,” Steffan said.

Oregon isn’t exactly a fresh face in the tournament either. The Ducks are appearing in their fifth NCAA Tournament in the past six years, and return after missing last season’s tournament.

Redshirt freshman setter Deedra Foss, however, has never played in an NCAA Tournament game.

“It’s not that much pressure; my teammates help me out a lot, especially because they’ve been to NCAA Tournaments so they know what to expect,” Foss said.

Last season the team stayed composed when it came back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Cal State Fullerton in the first round, and advanced to the second round for the fifth consecutive year.

“You need to use the excitement (of being in the tournament) to your advantage (to advance to the second round), but not let it over-hype you in games,” Steffan said.

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

What: NCAA volleyball tournament first round

Who: CSU vs. Oregon

Where: Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Center

When: Tonight, 8 p.m.

Listen: 90.5 FM KCSU

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