What a match up. Colorado State versus Colorado. Anytime these two teams meet it's a battle, but this time it is do or die for both teams as they meet in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
This will be the 30th meeting between the two teams in this rivalry, with the Rams holding an 18-11 edge including seven of the last eight matches.
"We're approaching the match as you would think we would," head coach Tom Hilbert said. "It's an in-state rival, Colorado, in the NCAA Tournament. I'm expecting a great match."
The Rams were playing some of the best volleyball of their season before the loss to Utah in the Mountain West Conference Tournament Semifinals. Before that match the Rams were on a seven match win streak, with wins over No. 16 BYU and Utah.
"Our team is ready to put that loss in the MWC Tournament behind us," Hilbert said. "I think that the girls put too much pressure on themselves. This week they have a completely different attitude."
With a young team, the Rams' seniors will have to step up and show the underclassmen how to perform in the post season. The three seniors on the team, outside hitters Casey Bauer and Tess Rogers, and middle blocker Dre Downs have led by example all year. Each of them has averaged over three kills per game for the year. Downs has also contributed on the defensive side of the ball as well, as she ranks 20th in the nation in blocks per game with 1.52.
"The seniors are definitely the leaders of our team," Hilbert said. "They will need to get us through the difficult situations for us to win."
Blocking has definitely been one of the deciding factors in Ram wins and losses this year. When the Rams win, they are averaging 3.93 blocks per game, while in their losses they average 2.40 blocks per game.
The Colorado Buffaloes are making their third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. They finished fifth in the Big 12 with a record of 15-12; 10-10 in conference. Their senior right side hitter Allie Griffin powers the Buffs' offense, averaging 4.64 kills per game. Junior middle Lara Bossow leads the team in hitting percentage with a mark of .368 on the year, while junior setter Ashley Nu'u is averaging 13.23 assists per game.
"I think CU has one of the better setters in the country, along with the setter from Washington," Hilbert said, Washington being another team in Fort Collins this weekend. "CU is a physical team that is battle tested. You can't pick out an underdog between these two teams because the teams are too close and there is too much emotion involved."
This is the 11th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament for the Rams. It marks the fifth time in the last seven years that the Rams have hosted the first and second rounds of the tournament, where they have posted a 10-1 all-time record in Moby.
The Rams' match against CU is scheduled for 7 p.m. following the first match between No. 3 Washington and Sienna. The first 300 students with a student ID will get in free so be sure to come early to support the Rams.