Match notes: Rams to face Purdue in 18th straight NCAA tournament

Nov. 28, 2012

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NCAA Championship Sub-Regional – CSU vs. Purdue
Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 | 2:30 p.m. MT | Tallahassee, Fla. | Tully Gymnasium (1,162)

About Colorado State
Colorado State earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament after going 13-3 in the Mountain West and winning the regular-season title. The Rams come into the tournament as hot as any team, winning their last eight matches and 11 of their last 12. CSU also has been tested this year, with eight of its 12 non-conference opponents making the NCAA tournament.

Colorado State features strong play at the net on both sides, ranking No. 18 nationally in hitting percentage (.288), and 15th in blocks per set (2.87).

The Rams are led by Mountain West Player of the Year Dana Cranston. The senior outside hitter is first on the team with 3.65 kills and 4.31 points per set, while also leading the team with 0.26 service aces per set. On three separate occasions this year, Cranston has matched her career high with 19 kills. In Mountain West play, Cranston was efficient on offense with a .277 hitting percentage, which ranked first in the league among all outside hitters.

Senior middle blocker Megan Plourde joins Cranston to provide a formidable one-two punch for the Rams. After leading the nation in blocks per set last year as a junior, Plourde ranks eighth in 2012, with 1.54 blocks per set. Plourde also led the Mountain West with a .361 hitting percentage, while averaging 3.73 points per set.

Senior middle blocker Brieon Paige and sophomore setter Deedra Foss joined Cranston and Plourde as All-Mountain West selections, giving the Rams four on the year. Tom Hilbert is in his 16th season as head coach of the Rams.

About Purdue
Purdue earned an at-large big to the NCAA tournament after finishing fifth in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers went 21-10 on the year, while going 12-8 in conference play. Purdue has won seven of its last 10 matches, including the last two.

The Boilermakers are led by their senior All-American outside hitter Ariel Turner. Turner, a Denver native, leads the team with 4.43 kills and 5.10 points per set, placing her in the top 16 nationally in both categories. Along with her offense, Turner is second on the team with 2.75 digs per set, and has tallied 14 double-doubles.

On defense, junior defensive specialist Carly Cramer leads the team with 4.21 digs per set, while also pacing Purdue with 0.29 service aces per set.

The Boilermakers have a pair of middle blockers who both average close to one block per set. Anna Drewry is tops on the team with 1.02 while Kierra Jones is close behind with 0.92. Jones also paces the team with a .362 hitting percentage, which places her in the top 50 nationally.

Series vs. the Boilermakers
The Rams and the Boilermakers have split their two previous meetings. Both matches were played in Fort Collins and went five sets. Purdue won the most recent meeting, in 2004, when the two teams faced each other in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

NCAA tournament history
Friday will mark CSU’s 46th all-time NCAA tournament matche, as the Rams have appeared in the last 17 tournaments, dating back to 1995. In its history, CSU has gone 22-23 in 23 tournament appearances. The Rams have won their first match each of the last five seasons, and have advanced to the regional semifinals (Sweet 16) nine times, most recently in 2009. The Rams' stretch of 18 straight NCAA tournament appearances is the seventh-longest active streak in the nation. For a full listing of CSU’s tournament matches and records, see Pages 15-17 of the release.

Access to the matches
Fans across the country can follow all the action this weekend in multiple ways. CSU’s match vs. Purdue, and all NCAA tournament matches, will be streamed online. To access the live video feed, visit CSU volleyball’s schedule page on There, fans can also access a link for live stats. In addition to the video stream and live stats, KCSU, CSU volleyball’s radio network, will broadcast the action from Tallahassee. The call can be heard locally on 90.5 FM or worldwide at As always, live Twitter updates will be provided from CSU’s Gameday Twitter account: @CSURamsGameday.

Rams advancing in the bracket
Not only is CSU getting to the tournament on a consistent basis, but the Rams are winning when they get there. CSU has won its first-round match each of the past five seasons, and 17 times in 23 overall appearances, including 12 of 15 under Head Coach Tom Hilbert.

A win Friday would . . .
• Advance CSU to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the sixth consecutive season. The Rams would then face the winner of the Florida State-Hofstra match, which is set to take place immediately following CSU’s first-round match vs. Purdue. CSU’s second-round matchmatch would be played Saturday at 2:30 p.m. MT.
• Improve the Rams’ record to 23-23 all-time in the NCAA tournament, including 18-15 under Hilbert.
• Be CSU’s first win against a ranked opponent away from Moby Arena since defeating No. 13 Oregon in last year’s opening round match, on Dec. 1, 2011, at Hawai’i.
• Improve CSU to 2-1 against the Boilermakers, and avenge CSU’s loss to Purdue in the first round of the 2004 tournament, which was played in Fort Collins.

Four in a row
With a win over New Mexico last Friday, CSU upped its record to 13-3 in conference action, claiming a share of the 2012 Mountain West title with San Diego State. Because CSU beat San Diego State in three sets this season, compared to the Aztecs’ four-set win, the Rams earned the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.

The Rams have been dominant since the inception of the Mountain West, winning 10 titles in 14 seasons. Just one other time (2000-04), has CSU won four consecutive regular-season championships.