Aug 282002
Authors: Lee Miller

The countdown to the Rams’ volleyball season opener gets shorter, and preparations are continuing without a hitch.

The practice schedule was shortened this week from two three-hour sessions just one a day. The players are pleased with the shortening of their training and eager to get into a game situation.

Head coach Tom Hilbert is still unsure of who will get the final starting spot on Friday when the No. 18 Rams open against No. 22 Kansas State.

“I’m seeing a lot of good things from all of the girls,” Hilbert said. “Tess (Rogers) has been playing very well, and so has Casey (Bauer). We’ve been rotating them in and out on the outside for the last two weeks and they’re both looking really good. In the end it’s going to come down to who is playing more consistently.”

The match against Kansas State will mark the third time in the last four years that the Rams have faced a top 25-ranked opponent in their first match of the season.

In 2000, the Rams took their opening match against No. 9 Florida 3-1 and the previous season they beat No. 19 Colorado 3-0.

One heckuva coach

Hilbert enters the 2002 season ranked No. 8 in Division I volleyball among active head coaches.

Hilbert’s 142-26 record at CSU since 1997 has produced a .845 winning percentage. Add that to his 174-72 record at the University of Idaho and Hilbert has amassed a .736 winning percentage over his 13-year career.

Hilbert is also on his way to dominating the CSU record books as the Rams’ volleyball coach. Previous coach Rich Feller totaled 300 wins with the Rams in a 14-year run. Hilbert will be halfway to that mark in the first half of this season, which will be his sixth.

Hilbert surpassed Feller’s two first-place conference finishes when the Rams wrapped up the Mountain West for the third time last season.

Four All-Americans have played under Hilbert at CSU, compared to three that played under Feller.

Finally, the Rams have reached the NCAA Tournament five times under Hilbert, a feat the Rams were able to accomplish only eight times before his arrival.

University Park Classic has been kind

The Rams have a knack for starting their seasons out at home on a roll.

Since the University Park Holiday Inn Classic was created in 1987, the Rams have controlled their home court with a 37-6 record.

“We like starting our season out with this tournament,” Hilbert said. “It feels good to come out at home with the support of the crowd.”

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