Match notes: CSU returns home for Rams Volleyball Classic
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Rams Volleyball Classic, Presented by PVH
Sept. 7-9, 2012 | Moby Arena (8,745) | Fort Collins, Colo.
|Friday, Sept. 7|
|Match 1:||New Mexico State vs. FIU||4:30 p.m. MT|
|Match 2:||Colorado State vs. Pepperdine||7 p.m.|
|Saturday, Sept. 8|
|Match 3:||Pepperdine vs. New Mexico State||11 a.m.|
|Match 4:||Colorado State vs. FIU||1 p.m.|
|Match 5:||Pepperdine vs. FIU||5 p.m.|
|Sunday, Sept. 9|
|Match 6:||Colorado State vs. New Mexico State||12 p.m.|
Colorado State will host its second tournament in three weeks, competing in the 2012 Rams Volleyball Classic, presented by PVH. The four-team tournament will be held Sept. 7-9 at Moby Arena. Fans have several ways to stay up to date with the action.
Live Stats: Live stats will be provided through Gametracker for all six matches. Links for live stats can be accessed through the Tournament Central page, at: www.CSURams.com/sports/w-volley/2012RamsVolleyballClassic.html.
Audio: All CSU matches can be heard free of charge locally on 90.5 FM KCSU, or worldwide at www.KCSUFM.com.
Video: Fans can subscribe to view a live video stream of each CSU match this weekend. To access this feature, please visit www.CSURams.com/AllAccess.
Twitter: As always, CSU’s athletic department will tweet live updates and results from the CSU Rams Gameday Twitter account: @CSURamsGameday.
Pepperdine comes into the match ranked 12th nationally after winning four of its first five matches, including a neutral-court victory over then-No. 7 Illinois. Its offense is averaging 14.54 kills per set behind strong hitting from their junior outside hitter, Jazmine Orozco (3.08).
Pepperdine returns junior setter Kellie Woolever, who finished 26th in the nation in assists per set. Woolever is again leading the team with 11.15 assists per set. Victoria Adelhelm, a senior middle blocker, is leading the team with a .484 hitting percentage.
In all, the Waves are 6-4 against CSU and currently own a four-match winning streak against the Rams. Pepperdine’s most recent win over CSU came during the 2009 season opener. It snapped CSU’s 21-match winning streak, which still stands as the second longest in program history.
The Rams are 2-1 against Pepperdine at Moby Arena, and have beaten the Waves twice while they have been ranked.
About Florida International
Florida International comes into the tournament 2-4 after facing some tough competition in the state of Florida. Both of FIU’s victories have come against Florida A&M (3-1, 3-0).
The Panthers’ offense is averaging 11.62 kills per set and is led by senior outside hitter Marija Prsa (3.57). Prsa also helps anchor the defense with a team-leading 2.86 digs per set. In total, Florida International has eight international players on their roster. The Panthers won their most recent match of the season.
The Rams are 1-0 against Florida International, winning the series’ initial match, 3-0 in the opening round of the 2008 NCAA tournament. The win came in Gainesville, Fla.
About New Mexico State
The Aggies opened up their 2012 season with five straight wins before dropping their first match of the year to Northwestern. In its season opener, New Mexico State beat Wichita State--which beat CSU in four sets last weekend--3-1 on a neutral court in DeKalb, Ill.
New Mexico State returns sophomore outside hitter Meridth Hays, who finished 18th in the nation in kills per set (4.42) and points per set (4.94) last year as a freshman. In 2012, Hays is leading the Aggies with 5.25 kills per set and a .348 hitting percentage. As a team, New Mexico State is averaging 12.92 kills per set while hitting .244.
The Rams lead the all-time series, which dates back to their days as WAC foes, 19-10. Included in those wins is a victory last season in Las Cruces. Overall, CSU is 12-3 when playing New Mexico State at home.
Even with an 0-3 record last weekend in the Shocker Volleyball Classic, CSU has been exceptional in regular-season tournaments over the years. In fact, dating back to midway through the 2009 season, CSU has won 21 of its last 26 tournament matches, including first-place finishes in seven of the night tourneys.
In home tournaments, CSU is equally as impressive. Under Head Coach Tom Hilbert, CSU holds a record of 66-13 (.835), and has won its five most recent home tournaments dating back to 2009, including the Rocky Mountain Invite earlier this season and last year’s Rams Volleyball Classic. In all, CSU has won its five most recent home tournaments, and will look to make it six this weekend.
Rams Volleyball Classic history
While CSU has been very successful in home tournaments throughout the years, the Rams have played especially well in the Rams Volleyball Classic. In its two-year history, CSU has taken first place both times. Last year in the tournament, Katelyn Steffan took MVP honors.
Playing in one of the toughest four-day stretches in program history, according to Head Coach Tom Hilbert, the Rams went 1-3. CSU played on four consecutive days, all against teams who are or have been ranked or receiving votes in the AVCA top-25 poll this season. To add to the challenge, CSU played Saturday afternoon in Wichita, Kan., traveled home that night and played 18 hours later in Moby Arena.
Despite the losses, the Rams feel like they learned a lot from the weekend, which will ultimately benefit them later in the season.
“As tough as this past weekend was, I think we learned a lot of things that we needed to that we might not have learned if we would have played in a tournament like the first weekend,” senior Dana Cranston said. “I’m glad that we went through it, and I think we’re better today because of it.”
Already established as one of the program’s best blockers, senior Megan Plourde etched her name among some of the best last Sunday, recording her 500th career block. She is one of just three Rams to ever reach that milestone, joining Angela Knopf (630) and Mekana Barnes (571). If Plourde can duplicate her 2011 blocking total, she will become the school’s all-time blocking leader by the end of this season.
How sweep it is
CSU won the season’s first nine sets en route to a 3-0 start to the year. It marked the fifth time that the Rams have defeated at least their first three opponents in straight sets. CSU also did it in 2011, marking the first time it has been accomplished in back-to-back years.
Neutral court streak ends at 15
With losses to then-No. 14 Tennessee and BYU over the weekend in Wichita, Kan., CSU saw its stretch of 15 consecutive neutral court victories snapped. The Rams were previously unbeaten on neutral courts dating back to Sept. 5, 2008.
Over the weekend, CSU lost three consecutive matches for the first time in four seasons. The last time CSU lost three in a row was Nov. 20-28, 2008. CSU got back into the win column on Sept. 2 with a four-set victory over Oklahoma.
Tough road ahead
According to Tom Hilbert, last weekend’s four-day stretch was one of the toughest any of his teams have ever played, but the challenge didn’t stop there. Hilbert also calls this year’s schedule the most difficult non-conference slate since 2000.
On the year, the Rams will play six matches against teams that made last year’s NCAA tournament, including two—UCLA and Pepperdine—that finished the year in the top six of the final AVCA Coaches Top 25 poll. UCLA, the defending national champion, entered the season as the preseason favorite to win a second consecutive title, while the Pepperdine Waves are currently at No. 12.
Additionally, several other opponents are receiving national recognition, including Tennessee (ranked No. 16), BYU (No. 21), Wichita State (receiving votes) and conference foe San Diego State (receiving votes).
The Rams’ incredible success at Moby Arena is nothing new to those who follow the program. Since Head Coach Tom Hilbert arrived in 1997, CSU has gone an impeccable 215-27 (.888) on its home court. The Rams won 11 of their 12 home matches in 2011, ranking ninth in school history for home winning percentage (.917). In fact, CSU has won at least 10 home matches each year dating all the way back to the 1995 season.
During Hilbert’s tenure, the Rams have also hosted 35 nationally ranked opponents, coming away with victories in 24 of those contests, including six of the last seven dating back to 2007. CSU’s most recent win over a ranked foe at Moby Arena was a memorable one, as the Rams came from behind to knock off fifth-ranked Nebraska in front of a new program and conference record 6,750 fans. Its next chance to beat a ranked team will be Friday vs. Pepperdine, which is currently ranked No. 12.
Between 1998 and 2000, CSU won an incredible 44 consecutive home matches. Since then, the Rams have pieced together streaks of 21 and 20, and currently are riding a 13-match home win streak. If the Rams can push that to 14 on Friday, it’ll match the fifth-longest home win streak in program history.