The Rams will look to expand on their 3-0 start this weekend in the Shocker Volleyball Classic, in Wichita, Kan.
Aug. 29, 2012
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Colorado State will take its first road trip of the 2012 season, playing in the Shocker Volleyball Classic, hosted by Wichita State. The four-team tournament will be held Aug. 30-Sept. 2 at Wichita State’s Charles Koch Arena, in Wichita, Kan. 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 here.
Audio: Thursday’s match against Wichita State, and all WSU matches, can be heard for free at www.ShockerRadio.com.
Video: For $10.95, fans can view a live video stream of every match this weekend. To access this, please visit www.ShockerVision.tv.
Twitter: As always, CSU’s athletic department will tweet updates and results from the volleyball’s Twitter account: @CSUvolleyball.
Shocker Volleyball Classic schedule
|Thursday, Aug. 30|
|Match 1:||Wichita State vs. Colorado State||6 p.m. MT|
|Friday, Aug. 31|
|Match 2:||Colorado State vs. Tennessee||3 p.m.|
|Match 3:||Wichita State vs. BYU||6 p.m.|
|Saturday, Sept. 1|
|Match 4:||BYU vs. Colorado State||11 a.m.|
|Match 5:||Tennessee vs. BYU||6 p.m.|
|Sunday, Sept. 2|
|Match 6||Wichita State vs. Tennessee||12 p.m.|
About Wichita State
Wichita State is the only team to beat CSU in Fort Collins a year ago, so the Rams will be looking for revenge Thursday night. The Shockers enter this weekend tournament 2-1 on the year. After dropping their opening match to New Mexico State, Wichita State beat Northern Illinois and North Dakota State in DeKalb, Ill.
Through three matches, senior Emily Adney leads the offense with 3.08 kills per set. Three other Shockers have at least two kills per set, including Elizabeth Field, Ashley Andrade and Sam Sanders. Field, a junior, also leads the hitters with a .419 attack percentage. Senior Jackie Church, who averaged 4.83 digs per set over the weekend, was named the Missouri Valley Conference’s defensive player of the week.
Nine freshmen make up Wichita State’s roster. In all, CSU is 3-1 against the Shockers, with its lone loss coming last year at Moby Arena. In that match, Dana Cranston led CSU returners with 12 kills on .355 hitting. WSU’s Adney was unstoppable, posting 18 kills on .348 hitting, in addition to four blocks.
Tennessee comes into the weekend ranked 14th nationally, and its offense is averaging 13.83 kills per set through three matches. Leading the charge is sophomore Kelsey Robinson, who has 55 total kills in 12 sets (4.58 per set). Robinson also leads the team in service aces (0.42 per set), and ranks second in digs (2.83). Junior Leslie Cikra is the team leader in blocks (0.92) and ranks second on the team in kills (2.75).
Tennessee is 2-1 on the year. After falling to then-No. 8 Florida State, the Lady Vols rebounded with a home win against Cincinnati and then-No. 10 Iowa State.
The Rams are 2-1 against Tennessee, winning the last two meetings, in 1990 and 2009.
BYU opened up the first weekend of volleyball with sweeps over Arkansas State, Air Force and Rice. As a team, the Cougars are hitting .402, compared to their opponents .149. Four players are averaging more than two kills per set, including junior Jennifer Hamson, who is hitting .528 and averages 4.89 kills. Heather Hannemann has 13.56 assists per set, while three players—Hamson, Kathry LeCheminant and Nicole Warner each average more than a block per set.
The rivalry between BYU and CSU goes all the way back to 1976, the first year of CSU volleyball. The Cougars hold the overall advantage over CSU, 26-45-1, but CSU has won the most four recent matches, most recently in 2010. However, the Rams have never beaten the Cougars on a neutral court (0-3-1).
Winning in Wichita
In 1991, CSU played in the Wichita State Tournament, hosted by Wichita State, and won all four matches to take home first place. Prior to this weekend, that was CSU’s only trip to Wichita, meaning the Rams come in with a perfect 4-0 record all-time at Wichita State.
CSU fell at Oklahoma a year ago, and will get the chance to repay the Sooners on Sunday, when Oklahoma visits Moby Arena. It will be a big match for both parties, as CSU is ranked No. 24 and Oklahoma comes in receiving votes, but is also big because Oklahoma is Head Coach Tom Hilbert’s alma mater. Hilbert got his undergrad at OU and spent the first years of his career on the Oklahoma sidelines as an assistant coach. Additionally, freshman Acacia Andrews grew up in Norman, Okla.
The Sooners went 3-0 last weekend, defeating Missouri State, Western Michigan and Tulsa. Morgan Reynolds is averaging 3.17 kills and 1.42 blocks per set through three matches. Sallie McLaurin paces OU with 1.83 blocks. She also averages 2.00 kills per set.
Despite Oklahoma’s win against the Rams a year ago, CSU holds a 5-2 advantage over the Sooners. In last year’s matchup, Brieon Paige and Megan Plourde combined for 13 kills on .423 hitting. OU outhit CSU, .282-.162. The Sooners were the only team all season to hit above .250 on CSU.
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 23 tournament matches, including first-place finishes in seven of the eight tourneys. The Rams hope to expand on that this weekend in Wichita.
In home tournaments, CSU is just 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.
If the Rams can sustain victories in their first two matches this weekend, they will have won their first five matches of the season for just the sixth time in program history. CSU won its first five matches of the 2010 season, which ranks fifth in the record books. In 2001, CSU won its first 20 matches before suffering its first defeat, to No. 15 Utah on Nov. 3. That year, the Rams completed the season 29-4 and ranked No. 10 in the year’s final poll.
How sweep it is
Last Saturday, CSU swept both Denver and Rhode Island to improve to 3-0 on the season, all coming in straight sets. It marks just the fifth time that the Rams have defeated their first three opponents via sweeps. CSU also did it in 2011, meaning that this is the first time it has ever been accomplished in back-to-back years.
The Rams also accomplished the feat in 1997, 1992 and 1986. If CSU can win its first set against Wichita State on Thursday, it will match 1992’s stretch of 10 consecutive sets won to begin a season. The longest streak is 24—eight straight sweeps—in 1986.
Nothing neutral about neutral courts
CSU finished 2011 with a stellar home record, but also was a perfect 6-0 on a neutral court. In fact, CSU’s last loss on a neutral court came against Pepperdine on Sept. 5, 2008, a stretch of 15 consecutive matches.
Tough road ahead
The Rams will challenge themselves in 2012, as Head Coach Tom Hilbert calls his team’s schedule the most difficult non-conference slate since 2000.
That tough stretch begins this week, as CSU plays four teams in four days, all against teams who are or have been ranked or receiving votes during the 2012 season. The Rams face Wichita State (received votes in preseason poll), Tennessee (No. 14), BYU (receiving votes) and Oklahoma (receiving votes) on consecutive days.
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, enters the season as the preseason favorite to win a second consecutive title, while the Pepperdine Waves are currently at No. 13.
Over the weekend, true freshmen Jaime Colaizzi and Anastassia Koutchouk made their collegiate debuts, as did redshirt freshman Kaitlind Bestgen, a local product of Rocky Mountain High School. Colaizzi started each of the three matches and played in all nine sets. The Windsor native tallied 20 digs on the weekend, tied for second on the team.
Also returning to the court was redshirt freshman Kaila Thomas, who missed the final 19 matches of the 2011 season after suffering a concussion.
With last Friday’s win over Virginia, the Rams have now won their season-opening match each of the last three years, and have won their home opener 12 times in Hilbert’s 16 seasons, including five of the past six.
Perfect against Colorado
The Rams swept Denver on Aug. 25, and despite a loss to the Pioneers in 2011, they have mastered the state of Colorado. During Head Coach Tom Hilbert’s tenure, CSU is a perfect 38-0 at home against the other Division I teams from the Centennial State—Air Force, Colorado, Denver, Northern Colorado. CSU’s last home loss to a team from Colorado came in 1995 against the Colorado Buffaloes.
In all, CSU has taken 88 of its 108 (.815) all-time matches against teams from its own state, including a 50-5 record (.909) at home.
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 214-27 (.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 likely be Sept. 7 vs. Pepperdine, which is currently ranked No. 13.
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 12-match home win streak. If the Rams can push that to 14, it’ll match the fifth-longest home win streak in program history.
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