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Volleyball Hits Road For First Time

Sept. 5, 2006

Golden Bear Invitational Notes
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Golden Bear Invitational: The two winningest coaches in Colorado State history will pit their current teams against each other on Friday evening. Rich Feller, current Cal coach and former CSU coach, tallied 299 wins with the Rams, while current Rams coach Tom Hilbert is right behind him with 245 victories. This will be the only non-conference road matches this season for the Rams and the second-straight season the Rams have played a tournament in the state of California. Last season, the Rams opened the season at the Pepperdine Invitational, posting a 1-2 record.

A Perfect Sweep: Colorado State won the seventh Coors Invitational with three-game sweeps over Wake Forest, Florida Atlantic and James Madison. This is the fourth time in the tournament's seven seasons the Rams have won the tournament.

All-Tournament: Sophomore setter Ashley Fornstrom was named the MVP of the tournament, while sophomore outside hitter Jaime Strauss and senior outside hitter Katherine Whitney were also named to the team. Fornstrom led the team with 13 blocks, had eight kills and led the team to a .308 hitting percentage over the three matches. Strauss averaged a double-double with 34 kills and 30 digs, as well as hit .413 while Whitney had 27 kills, 29 digs and hit .229.

Offensive Firepower: Jaime Strauss hit a career-best .556 (11-1-18) against James Madison on Saturday evening. Her hitting percentage is the best for an outside hitter, with a minimum of 10 kills, since Tess Rogers hit .583 (17-3-24) against Idaho on Nov. 24, 2004.

Block Party: No setter in school history has ever ended the season averaging a block per game or more. Ashley Fornstrom currently is averaging 1.00 blocks per game for third on the team and it is the highest average by a setter in CSU history. Last season, she ended the year with 0.97 blocks per game and her 0.98 career per game average is by far the best-ever by a setter. Allison Peckham (1998-2001) holds the career blocks per game average by a setter at 0.73 (286b-393g).

Balanced Attack: All five starting hitters for the Rams are averaging over two kills per game and hitting over .210 through the first six matches. Sophomore blocker Mekana Barnes leads the way with 3.43 kills per game and a .261 hitting percentage, while Jaime Strauss is averaging 3.24 kills per game and hitting .212, Katherine Whitney is getting 3.05 kills per game and hitting .213, junior right-side hitter Tonya Mokelki is getting 2.52 kills per game and hitting .225 and freshman middle blocker Tessa Nelson is averaging 2.10 kills per game and hitting .239.

Playing The Numbers: The sophomore class has three members, while there are two seniors, three juniors and four freshmen on the roster this season. Those three sophomores (Mekana Barnes, Ashley Fornstrom and Jaime Strauss) are accounting for over 41% of the team's kills, 91% of assists, 41% of aces, 35% of digs and 44% of the team's blocks, leading the way in every statistical category except hitting percentage, which the juniors own at .241 (Amanda Fahnestock, Tonya Mokelki, Jenni Hirneisen).

Human Shovel: Jaime Strauss became the first non-libero since 2001 to record more than 20 digs in a five-game match, tallying 22 against Missouri State. She shattered her previous career high of 13 from the five-game match against Northern Iowa last season.

Double Trouble: Jaime Strauss and Katherine Whitney both have recorded three double-doubles in kills and digs in the six matches this season, while Ashley Fornstrom has two double-doubles in assists and digs thus far.

Defensive Trio: Jaime Strauss, freshman libero Katelin Batten and Katherine Whitney are all averaging at least three digs per game. Batten leads the way with 3.48 digs per game, while Strauss is averaging 3.24 and Whitney 3.11 digs per game. The Rams are averaging 15.81 digs per game, compared to just 14.29 for the opposition.

The Best Defense: Colorado State leads the Mountain West Conference in opponent hitting percentage. The Rams are allowing opponents to hit just .118 on the year, while BYU is second with its opposition hitting .129. The Rams also rank third in the league in blocks with 2.88 per game.

Career Highs: Jaime Strauss recorded a career-high in hitting percentage by hitting .556 (11-1-18) against James Madison, while Amanda Fahnestock hit .600 (7-1-10) against the Dukes, also a career best. Against Florida Atlantic, several Rams tallied career highs. Senior defensive specialist Lindsey Hillegass tallied 10 digs, Fahnestock tied her career-high with six blocks and Tessa Nelson had 15 kills and hit a career-best .500 (15-3-24).

A Perfect 300: The match against Florida Atlantic was head coach Tom Hilbert's 300th match at Colorado State. Hilbert is 245-56 (.814) in his 10th season with the Rams. He is also just 55 wins shy of becoming the winningest coach in school history.

Tournament Connections: The obvious connection at the Golden Bear Invitational is Cal Head Coach Rich Feller, who spent 14 seasons (1983-96) as the head coach at Colorado State, amassing a 299-167 record with the Rams. Feller and current assistant coach Matt McShane were both also assistant coaches for the National Team when CSU assistant Karrie Larsen played. McShane has also coached against the Rams as assistants at New Mexico and Utah. Pepperdine sophomore outside hitter Caitlin Lawson was a teammate of freshman middle blocker Sydney Blancarte at Carondelet High School and American first-year assistant coach Lauren Richard-Evans played the Rams frequently as the setter at BYU from 2002-05.

Milestones Recorded: Jaime Strauss tallied her 100th career kill against James Madison and now has 101. Katherine Whitney tallied the 500th kill of her career against the Dukes and now has 505.

Picked Third: Colorado State was picked to finish third in the Mountain West Conference this season in a vote by the league's head coaches and selected media. The Rams received two first-place votes and 102 points, while Utah and BYU tied for first place with six first-place nods each and 116 points. This marks the second-straight season the Rams have been picked third in the pre-season standings.

By The Numbers:
Jaime Strauss needs six more digs for the 200th of her career.
Katherine Whitney needs 16 kills for her 100th at CSU.
• Whitney also needs just eight more digs for the 1,000th of her career.
Mekana Barnes is 12 kills shy of 300 for her career.
Amanda Fahnestock needs 11 digs for the 200th of her career.
Ashley Fornstrom is 18 kills shy of her 100th career kill.
Tonya Mokelki is 38 kills shy of her 400th.

Fantastic Fans: Colorado State ranks 11th in the nation in attendance this season after two weeks. The Rams are averaging 1,694 per match, which is also second in the conference behind the 1,705 that BYU is averaging. Hawai'i leads the way with 7,872 fans per match.

The Returners Bring: Colorado State returns 67.6 percent of its service aces from a year ago, along with 61.9 percent of its digs, 50.9 percent of its blocks and 95.9 percent of its assists. The Rams also return 36.7 percent of their offensive firepower from the 2005 squad.

A New Role: Katherine Whitney is one of the Rams' starting outside hitters in 2006. In 2005, Whitney spent the first five matches as the team's starting setter and the last 25 as the starting libero and in 2004, she played defensive specialist. As a freshman at Seton Hall in 2003, Whitney was a starting outside hitter, earning Big East Conference Rookie of the Year honors.

Tough Schedule: Of the 10 non-conference opponents on the 2006 schedule, six were in the NCAA Tournament last season. American, California, Florida Atlantic, Missouri State, Pepperdine and Texas A&M, like Colorado State, all advanced to the tournament a year ago. The Rams face more NCAA Tournament teams than any other team in the Mountain West Conference (Utah 5, BYU 4, San Diego State 3, UNLV 2, Wyoming 2, New Mexico 1 and TCU 1).

She Digs It: Last season, Katherine Whitney tied the school single-season record for matches with 20 or more digs, hitting the mark five times. Her five matches of 20 or more digs also ties for the third most in a career in school history, with the school record being nine by Carrie Appleman.

Aces Wild: Both Katherine Whitney and Ashley Fornstrom recorded 30 or more aces in 2005, marking the seventh consecutive season the Rams have had at least a pair with 30 or more points each from the service line.

Tuesday Afternoon Club: Join Head Coach Tom Hilbert and at least one player every Tuesday at 5:00 p.m., at the Hilton. Learn the inside scoop on the previous week, the upcoming matches and obscure statistics and strategies.

Winning Ways: Colorado State has the best winning percentage in Mountain West Conference history. In the six years of the conference, the Rams are 190-40 overall (.826) and are 89-11 (.890) against league foes. The next best winning percentage in the league is Utah at .736 (162-58) overall and .770 (77-23) in conference play. With 10 more victories, the Rams will become the first team in the Mountain West to win 200 matches.

Closing In: Head Coach Tom Hilbert is just five wins shy of his 250th at Colorado State. In his 10th season, Hilbert sports a 245-56 (.814) record with the Rams.

Over The Airwaves: The majority of Colorado State's matches this season can be heard on Yahoo.com. Cole Weinman will be doing the play-by-play, while Lance Moorman will be handling the color commentary. Select matches will also be aired on 90.5 FM, KCSU.



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