So it begins

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Aug 312004
 
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

The CSU women’s volleyball (1-1) team is on deck for a hopeful

second win at 7 p.m. Wednesday against the Idaho State Bengals

(0-0) at Moby Arena.

After winning its first match against Georgia Tech on Saturday,

the Rams will face a team that finished third in the Big Sky

Conference in 2003 and won 20 games for the first time in 13 years.

The two teams haven’t faced each other since 1996, but CSU leads

the series 8-1.

The Bengals return six starters, including senior setter Martha

Brinton and senior outside hitter Ali Gorny, both selected as

All-Big Sky players.

Brinton, a transfer from BYU in 2003, was named Newcomer of the

Year in the BSC and was No. 1 in the conference in assists with

11.34 per game. Brinton played in six games with BYU but didn’t

face CSU.

Gorny led the BSC with 4.59 kills per game and had 20 or more

kills in 11 matches.

“I’m confident that we have really improved ourselves from last

season,” said Mike Welch, the Bengals head coach in a press

release. “The 2004 team will be a group with a lot of talent and

on-court experience. Between our returning crew and our newcomers,

on paper, we look really good.”

Sophomore outside hitter Nikki Randall joins the team this year.

She was named Big Sky Freshman of the Year while playing for

Northern Arizona in 2003.

CSU head coach Tom Hilbert said he expects a good match from the

Bengals.

“They’re an experienced team, they have a lot of seniors,”

Hilbert said. “I think Nikki Randall, the transfer from Northern

Arizona, will be pretty good. They also have a good setter coming

in with Martha Brinton.”

Since Idaho State is a team the Rams have not played in seven

years, Hilbert has taken a look at a few areas in particular.

“We tried to get an idea of their personnel and what they did

last year,” Hilbert said.

The Rams have some individual power of their own but have also

played very well as a team thus far. After two matches, the Rams

are hitting .262, better than opponents’ .254, with 16.9 kills per

game and only one blocking error.

Junior outside hitter Dre Downs is hitting a team-best .397 with

3.75 kills per game, while senior Katie Jo Shirley-Cahoon is

hitting .349 with 3.12 kills. Junior Tess Roger had some impressive

kills this weekend, averaging 3.50 kills per game.

Sophomore transfer outside hitter Katherine Whitney also saw

some action, playing in six games this weekend with 14 digs.

“It was really fun,” Whitney said of her first action with CSU.

“It was exciting. It’s very different (from Seton Hall). Everything

is bigger.”

Whitney said she doesn’t really know what to expect from Idaho

State, but that doesn’t change the way the Rams will play

tonight.

“You just have to play your game because you don’t know what to

expect,” Whitney said.

Working on the scout team, freshman middle blocker Mekana Barnes

said she even gets nervous on the sidelines. She has noticed how

her teammates play during matches and hopes to help the team any

way she can.

“I’m just going to practice and play hard,” Barnes said. “I got

put on the scout team. (My job is) to help them get better.”

While Idaho State may not be a ranked team like those in the

tournament over the weekend (No. 1 Southern California, No. 5

Minnesota and No. 12 Georgia Tech), Hilbert said fans will still

get a good show.

“It’s not as high profile, but it’ll certainly be a good match,”

Hilbert said.

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