Volleyball heads to Florida

Dec 072003
Authors: David Selig

Maryland — The No. 12-ranked CSU Rams volleyball team may not

have been happy about being forced to travel to Maryland for its

first and second round games in the NCAA tournament, but they are

thrilled to be heading to Gainesville, Fla., for the regionals.

The Rams swept No. 25 Maryland 3-0 (30-23, 30-28, 30-26)

Saturday at the Comcast Center Gymnasium to earn one of the final

sixteen spots in the national tournament.

CSU out-hit the Terrapins .373 to .198 and compiled 20 more

total kills. The Rams’ balanced attack was led by right side hitter

Andreya Downs, who had a team best 13 kills and .632 hitting

percentage. Setter Melissa Courtney effectively used all of her

options, dishing out 47 assists to seven different attackers.

All-conference middle blocker Katie Jo Shirley returned to the

lineup after missing the team’s first round win Friday against

George Mason with a shoulder injury. Aside from hitting .500 and

slamming eight kills, Shirley allowed the team to play within its

typical rotation – with Downs attacking on the right side.

“Attacking the ball from that side of the court was a big part

of our offensive game plan,” said CSU coach Tom Hilbert. “We knew

if we attacked that side of the court we would have pretty good

success and it worked for us.”

CSU trailed in the second game by scores of 15-5, 18-9 and

28-24, but came back to earn the final six points of the game, and

headed to intermission with an almost insurmountable 2-0 lead.

“I remember looking at the scoreboard thinking that this isn’t

over,” Downs said. “I know that Maryland is thinking we have a

10-point lead, and a lot of times in those situations your opponent

gets very comfortable, and that’s when you just flip it and you

make two or three points and they get worried and shaky. We are a

strong enough team that if someone does that to us, we are going to

come back full force.”

The Rams benefited from a sub-par performance from Maryland

middle blocker Rachel Wagener. The Atlantic Coast Conference’s

blocking leader suffered from food poisoning and contributed only

two blocks and a minus-.111 hitting percentage. She did not have

any kills in the match. Right side hitter Lynnsy Jones led the

Terrapins with 15 kills, four digs and three service aces.

Reserve outside hitter Casey Bauer had her best performance of

the season for the Rams. She hit .500 and collected seven kills,

four digs and two aces.

Friday the Rams pounced George Mason, 3-0 (30-22, 30-24, 30-25),

as outside hitter Becky Sarauer slammed 14 kills and outside hitter

Tess Rogers added 13. Colorado State held three-time Continental

Athletic Association Player of the Year Aline Pereira to 12 kills

by forcing Patriot setter Jesica Umansky to spread the offense.

The Rams will head to Florida next weekend for a match-up with

No. 3 Florida, a team that Hilbert admits is more athletic than his

squad. CSU looks forward to defending its 23-match wining streak

against the Gators.

“To be going to the Sweet 16 is really exciting,” setter Melissa

Courtney said. “We know it’s going to be hard and this week in

practice we are going to have to work hard, but I think we are just

enjoying the fact that we won tonight and are moving on to the next


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