Rams capture Carolina Classic championship
Sept. 12, 2009
By Danny Mattie
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The Colorado State volleyball team closed out the 2009 Carolina Classic on Saturday, defeating the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, 3-1, in the team’s first match of the day, and sweeping host North Carolina in the night cap to take home the tournament championship.
After picking up a big victory over previously undefeated Marshall on Friday, the Rams stormed out of the gates against Tennessee, staking to an early 2-0 lead with 26-24 and 28-26 victories in Sets 1 and 2.
Tennessee, who entered the week receiving votes in the AVCA national coaches’ poll, bounced back to force a fourth set with a 25-23 Set 3 win, but the Rams dashed the Lady Vols’ hopes with a commanding 25-13 triumph in the deciding set.
“This was our most complete match of the road trip,” said Head Coach Tom Hilbert. “The team really stepped up and played well against a very tough opponent.”
Junior outside hitter Danielle Minch, who was selected as the tournament MVP, recorded 18 kills on .295 hitting, while adding three blocks to lead the Rams to the victory.
Fellow all-tourney team member Jacque Davisson added 11 kills of her own and was one of four players to record double digits in digs (15), joining sophomore setter Evan Sanders (16), junior defensive specialist Audrey Hemmings (12) and senior libero Katelin Batten, who led the team with 17. Batten also made the all-tourney team, giving the Rams the most selections with three.
The Rams defense looked impressive at the net, where CSU staked to a 15-8 advantage in team blocks over the Lady Vols, led by senior middle blocker Tessa Nelson, who notched nine assisted blocks in the match.
“I really think the team made strides over the last few days,” added Hilbert following the team’s win over UNC. “I like winning, but I like the growing process that comes along with it even more.”
The Rams’ growth showed in their victory over the Tar Heels, with Minch once again proving to be the catalyst. She notched a match-high 13 kills, and added a pair of assisted blocks, while redshirt freshman Megan Plourde chipped in with a career-high nine kills on .462 hitting.
Redshirt sophomore Katelyn Steffan added six kills and seven total blocks (four solo) while hitting .500 against the Tar Heels.
Batten added 13 digs and Sanders, who recorded 36 assists vs. Tennessee, added 32 assists to mark her ninth consecutive match with 30-plus assists.
The wins move the Rams to 7-3 on the season, heading into their first Mountain West Conference test of the year. The Rams travel to Las Vegas, Nev., to take on the UNLV Lady Rebels on Friday at the Cox Pavilion. It is the MWC opener for both the Rams and the Rebels, who were picked to finish second and sixth, respectively, in the conference preseason poll.
Carolina Classic All-Tournament Team