Gainesville, Fla. – Having fallen from the graces of the NCAA
volleyball elite, the Rams of CSU now return home after a
successful run to the regional semifinals came to an abrupt
The Rams suffered only their second three-game sweep of the
season (the other came to then-No.1 Stanford to begin the season)
at the hands of the Florida Gators in Florida’s O’Connell Center.
But the demeanor of the team is not one of anguish or remorse; but
of anxiety to prepare for the 2004 season.
“I was proud of my players. We hung in there,” said CSU head
coach Tom Hilbert following the team’s 30-13, 30-22, 30-26 loss to
the Gators. “We have no seniors on this team, so I’m pretty excited
for the future. What I told them after the game was that this was a
measuring stick for us.”
It well could be, if the Rams retain what they learned from
their experience here and apply it to next season – something
outside hitter Becky Sarauer said the team plans to do.
“We now know how good we have to play at this point in the
season,” the junior said. “We know what we have to do to get past
(the regional semifinal) round.”
That the Rams reached the regional semifinals was not much of a
surprise for the coaches or the players; nevertheless it serves as
a learning experience for everyone involved, said junior middle
blocker Katie Jo Shirley.
“Next year we have high expectations of where we want to go,”
said the 6-foot junior whose four-year tenure on the team exceeds
that of her younger teammates.
After going undefeated in the Mountain West Conference regular
season and tournament and with three all-MWC first team members
(Shirley, sophomore Tess Rogers and junior Melissa Courtney)
returning, the team has every right to be excited for 2004.
“This match, for us, was a valuable learning experience,” said
Courtney, who was also named co-MWC Player of the Year this
With so much youth and so much talent, the refrain resounds for
the Rams: wait ’til next year.