The CSU volleyball team’s spectacular season came to a disappointing conclusion just after the semester ended for the rest of the university. The team lost to No. 2 Nebraska in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament in Lincoln, Neb.
The strong senior class, including All-Americans Angela Knopf, Soraya Santos and Courtney Cox, saw its last chance at a national title slip away.
They were a team that had planned for the post season since the beginning, with the mantra of “Final Four” helping them maintain their focus.
It was a bittersweet ending for the Ram team as a whole after finishing the season with a sparkling 29-4 overall record and a third straight Sweet 16 appearance.
The shining light of the four-game Nebraska match was emerging star Becky Sarauer. The freshman outside hitter led the team with 15 kills and a .323 hitting percentage. Sarauer earned the honor of being named to the regional All-Tournament team, along with three players from Nebraska and two from Florida.
After the Rams were out of the tournament, the players watched No. 3 Stanford, which had beaten the Rams swiftly during the regular season, upset first Nebraska, and then Long Beach State at the Final Four in San Diego, Calif. Unfortunately for LBS (33-1), its only loss of the entire season occurred with the championship on the line.
In the final rankings of the season, CSU was placed at No. 10, which is where it finished a year ago. Stanford, Long Beach State, Nebraska, Arizona, and USC comprised the top five, respectively. Utah, the Rams’ MWC nemesis of the season, finished No. 15, while BYU landed at No. 22.
Even though the Rams weren’t able to get as far as they’d hoped, their season included many positive notes. They competed with the top teams in the nation all year, and rewrote the record books here at CSU.
The 2001 Rams have the best hitting percentage, more kills per game, and more blocks per game than any CSU team prior to them. They led the MWC in almost every statistical category, and had a Ram named MWC Player of the Week five times.
Two of those players were even chosen to be All-Americans in the post season. Knopf was honored on the first team, while Santos was placed on the second team. Knopf received the award for the second year in a row. It is the first time for Santos, a native of Brazil.n