June 26, 2012
Complete schedule online | PDF of 2012 schedule
By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo.—Coming off the heels of three consecutive Mountain West titles, the Colorado State women’s volleyball team opens 2012 with a quartet of seniors who are looking to perfect their collegiate runs with a fourth championship ring. In their way will be what Head Coach Tom Hilbert describes as a ‘tough’ schedule, featuring six teams that played in last year’s NCAA tournament, highlighted by a home match against the defending national champion UCLA Bruins.
“We have a tough schedule, and we’re bringing some really good opponents to Moby,” Hilbert said. “We have four seniors and a good team, and we want to entertain our fans with some of the best teams in the country.”
The season begins with CSU’s annual home tournament (Aug. 24-25), where the Rams will face Virginia, Rhode Island and Denver—which is now coached by former CSU associate head coach Jesse Mahoney. CSU will hit the road for a tournament in Wichita, Kan. (Aug. 30-Sept. 1), and will face the Shockers, Tennessee and former conference foe, BYU.
“Wichita State was the only team to beat us on our court last year, so they’re a very tough team that was in the postseason a year ago,” Hilbert said. “Then, to follow that up with Tennessee—another tournament team—and BYU—a program with a lot of history—it will show us where we’re at early in the season.”
To add to the grueling stretch, the Rams will return home to play their third NCAA tournament team in four days when they host Oklahoma for a Sunday afternoon match (Sept. 2) at Moby Arena. Hilbert graduated from Oklahoma and began his coaching career with the Sooners.
The team will stay in Fort Collins the following weekend for its second tournament, the Rams Volleyball Classic presented by Poudre Valley Health System (Sept. 7-9). There, CSU will see great competition in Florida International, Pepperdine and New Mexico State. The Waves made last year’s Sweet 16 while the Aggies were an NCAA bubble team in 2011.
Sept. 15 will be the marquee match of the season, when CSU hosts UCLA, the defending national champions and one of the most historic programs in volleyball history.
“The success of the Nebraska match last year prompted me to get a really big team to Moby again,” Hilbert said. “UCLA is a really great team. They won the national championship and didn’t lose much from that team.”
CSU is anticipating another record-breaking crowd for the match after establishing new conference attendance records each of the past two seasons.
“Hopefully we can break another attendance record that night,” Hilbert said. “Nebraska was a testament to how we benefit from playing in front of a loud Moby crowd.”
From there, conference play will begin, where the Rams will make a run for their fourth straight MW title and 10th in 14 seasons.
They will open their conference slate on the road against New Mexico (Sept. 20), followed by three home matches, including the first as conference mates against Nevada (Sept. 27). CSU will also face San Diego State (Sept. 29)—which finished second in the league last year—and rival Wyoming (Oct. 5) during the homestand.
The clash against the Cowgirls will be part of the university’s Homecoming weekend. The team will honor its former players during the match and throughout the weekend. The match will begin later than usual match times, at 7:45, to allow for the city’s Homecoming parade and University’s pep rally, which will take place prior to the match.
“Wyoming will be significantly good,” Hilbert said. “It’s a big match for us, as they’ll be in the running for the conference title.”
On Oct. 11, CSU will take its first trip to Fresno, Calif., since 1996, followed by a match vs. UNLV on Oct. 13.
“I think the additions of Nevada and Fresno State is great for our conference,” Hilbert said. “Both are teams that have some pretty good volleyball history, and both have young, new coaches.”
During the next four weeks, CSU will play Boise State (Oct. 18) and Air Force (Oct. 19) at home, followed by a road trip to San Diego State (Oct. 25), Nevada (Oct. 27) and Wyoming (Nov. 2). The Rams will return to Moby to face UNLV (Nov. 8) and Fresno State (Nov. 10) before taking a break from conference action for a Nov. 13 match at intrastate rival, Northern Colorado.
CSU will then wrap up its regular season with road matches at Air Force (Nov. 15) and Boise State (Nov. 17), followed by Senior Night, on Friday, Nov. 23, vs. New Mexico.
“We’re really excited to continue to test ourselves with a demanding and challenging schedule,” Hilbert said. “We believe that we have a lot of entertaining matches at Moby Arena for fans to come see.”
The Rams finished the 2011 season 24-6, winning both the MW regular-season and tournament championships and advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament. CSU has won 20-plus matches and earned an NCAA tournament berth each of the last 17 seasons, including all 15 years of Hilbert's tenure.