CSU, winners of the last four Mountain West titles, will enter voluntary summer workouts looking to improve on consistency.
May 2, 2013
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FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Wednesday concluded Colorado State volleyball’s spring training schedule, leading the team into its voluntary summer workouts. Returners from the 2012 squad, in addition to CSU’s incoming freshman class, will report for fall camp on Aug. 10.
Head Coach Tom Hilbert and the Rams spent seven weeks, dating back to the week of March 11, on the court. The large majority of the training included full team workouts. CSU’s two practices this week were individual skills workouts, with players divided up by position, as the team had done earlier this offseason. During the spring, CSU was also performing its regular morning workouts in the strength & conditioning facility.
“This was one of the most physically demanding springs we’ve ever had,” Hilbert said. “I think we were able to define peoples’ roles more clearly; that’s a big part of what we were able to do this spring, and it was important to do after graduating four senior starters.”
As they have done in the past, the Rams participated in three spring tournaments, playing 10 shortened scrimmages against local and regional teams, including Air Force, Denver, Kansas, New Mexico, Northern Colorado, Wichita State and Wyoming. The tournaments were held in Colby, Kan. (March 30), Greeley, Colo. (April 6) and Fort Collins (April 13).
New this spring, CSU also spent a week of its training playing doubles, particularly in a sand environment. The training—which was limited due to two major snowstorms—was capped with the inaugural Sand in the Rockies tournament against Colorado, at Oasis, in Broomfield, Colo.
“It was a really fun event,” Hilbert said. “We may try and keep it going. I think the players had fun, and any time you do something that’s competitive and enjoyable, it ends up being a good thing.”
CSU will now break, allowing the team to focus on upcoming final exams. Many of the players will stay in Fort Collins over the summer, and while the coaching staff cannot require or be involved with any workouts, Hilbert has encouraged his team to remain active in the weight room and on the court, especially playing doubles.
“We focused the last two weeks of spring on teaching them to play doubles with the hopes that they will continue to go out and play that game through the course of the summer,” Hilbert said. “We can’t require them to do anything, but we’re certainly giving them all the information they need.”
OTHER SPRING NOTES:
- Where Kelsey Snider will play this fall is still up in the air. Hilbert noted that it could be on the right side, where she’s played the past two seasons, or it could be in the middle, the position she was recruited as and saw the most time at this spring. Also a change this offseason was Snider’s participation on CSU’s track team. The junior competed in the high jump, and expects to expand her versatility next spring.
- Sophomore Anastassia Koutchouk, who played in 55 sets as a freshman, primarily as a server, is currently in France, trying out for France’s junior national team. Tryouts began on Monday and extend through Sunday. Those earning roster spots will then travel to Serbia for the 2013 Junior Volleyball World Championships. Koutchouk, a native of Calais, France, competed on the junior national team a year ago, helping France earn a bid to this month’s world championships after a successful run in 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championships.
In February, four CSU players—Jaime Colaizzi, Adrianna Culbert, Deedra Foss and Kelsey Snider—tried out for the USA Volleyball A2 program.
- Sticking with the international flair, recent graduate Megan Plourde has spent the past several months playing professionally in Croatia. Dana Cranston, who will graduate in May, also has aspirations of playing after college, and last week was invited to Cannes, France, for a tryout with a prestigious club team. Later this month, she will depart for Winnipeg, Manitoba to compete with Volleyball Canada, which she has done in past summers, as well.
- While the 2013 schedule won’t be finalized until later this month, the Rams are gearing up for another exciting season. Announced in February, all Mountain West schools will play each other twice. With San Jose State and Utah State both joining the conference this fall, CSU will play 20 MW matches, up from 16 a year ago.
For its non-conference slate, the Rams are expected to host Baylor, Cal Poly, Missouri State, Northern Colorado and Texas A&M, while facing UC Santa Barbara, Denver, Pepperdine and Virginia away from Moby Arena. Northern Colorado, Pepperdine and Texas A&M were in last year’s NCAA tournament, in addition to MW foe San Diego State.
Ticket plans and prices will also be announced later this month. For now, new season ticket holders can place a deposit to guarantee season tickets for CSU’s 15 home matches.
- For years, CSU volleyball’s coaching staff has offered some of the top summer camps in the country, and again in 2013, the program will host four camps to help teach the game and further skill development to those who have an interest and passion for volleyball. Registration and more information can be found here.
ADDITIONAL QUOTES FROM HILBERT
(on the biggest improvements he saw out of his team this spring)
“We put some pressure on some players who had never had pressure on them before. There’s a bunch of players who have been here awhile but have never been thrust into a pressure playing moment, and now they are. It remains to be seen whether that will help us in the fall or not, but it should. The players worked extremely hard and learned a lot about themselves.”
(on the role of senior Samantha Peters)
“I really think that Sam has become a great player. Sam alone is not going to win games for us; we have to have other players step up, but she showed us a lot this spring. She has great range; she can hit from anywhere. Players really have to focus on her to stop her, and if they start doubling her, it’ll open things up for other players on the court.”
(on developing leadership on the team)
“In terms of leadership, you’re probably looking at Sam, Dri (Culbert), Deej (Foss) and Michelle (Smith). Those four are key components of this team, in many different ways.”
(on the biggest surprise this spring)
“Acacia Andrews has come a long way. She still needs to develop more consistency, but when she’s on, she is a great asset to us. She hits the ball very hard.”
(on areas the team needs to improve on prior to the start of the season)
“Outside hitting has to get better. We saw some glimpses of it being OK, but we’re not there. In the middle I think we’re fine, our setting is good, our libero is great, but I think outside hitting has to improve.”
(on general thoughts on the spring)
“We had moments where we played well, and we had moments where we didn’t play very well. I think it’s a matter of developing some consistency, and players realizing what they can and can’t do in order to win some games.”
(on the focus on doubles and sand volleyball this spring)
“I’ve always thought playing doubles is a great way to improve, because in the volleyball culture, that’s the way you get out and play. There aren’t a lot of high-level gyms to participate in. By playing doubles, you play other people who challenge you to compete, and to me that’s the big thing. They could go to the IPF and set up a net and play, but they’re not going to get as much out of that as if they were to go play a doubles team they don’t know and are trying to beat.”
“In the past we’ve made doubles available to the team and have provided information, but we’ve never taught them to play it like we did this year.”
(on the three incoming freshmen)
“They’re all developing. They’re better now than they were when we signed them. Michelle (Lawrence) has had a few injuries, but she should be better by the end of the summer. Jaliyah (Bolden) is getting better, and Cassidy (Denny), she’s a good player. Two of those three are certainly going to get a chance to play right away, and maybe all three."
(on the team’s depth chart entering the summer)
"We know Deedra will set, Jaime will play libero and Sam will be in the middle. Those three positions are certain. We know Dri will be on the court somewhere—it might be right side, it might be left—and Snider will play middle or right. Those are the players we know will be on the court. The others are still up in the air with people battling for positions.”
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