he University of Oregonâ€™s volleyball team plays a lot like its football team â€” 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 Oregonâ€™s quick attack.
â€œThey run a very fast right side set and they have a great right side player,â€ CSU coach Tom Hilbert said. â€œTheir setting is excellent.â€
Oregonâ€™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 â€œhighâ€ offense like CSU runs.
â€œAs a blocker you have more time to see a high set, whereas a fast one youâ€™re constantly almost chasing,â€ 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.
â€œIf itâ€™s anywhere not in the perfect location you have to use your wrists and chop around it,â€ 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.
â€œThe most difficult thing is that weâ€™re getting our scout team practices in the arena weâ€™re going to play in, and we have limited practice time,â€ Hilbert said. â€œBut so do they, so I donâ€™t think weâ€™re at any disadvantage.â€
Fortunately for CSU, playing in the NCAA Tournament isnâ€™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.
â€œIt helps set the wow factor and excitement aside a little bit and get down to business,â€ Steffan said.
Oregon isnâ€™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 seasonâ€™s tournament.
Redshirt freshman setter Deedra Foss, however, has never played in an NCAA Tournament game.
â€œItâ€™s not that much pressure; my teammates help me out a lot, especially because theyâ€™ve been to NCAA Tournaments so they know what to expect,â€ 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.
â€œYou 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,â€ Steffan said.
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.
What: NCAA volleyball tournament first round
Who: CSU vs. Oregon
Where: Hawaiiâ€™s Stan Sheriff Center
When: Tonight, 8 p.m.
Listen: 90.5 FM KCSU