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Rams continue MWC play vs. New Mexico, TCU

Sept. 22, 2009

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Match 12 | Colorado State vs. New Mexico
Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009 | Fort Collins, Colo. | Moby Arena (8,745) | 7:30 p.m. | The Mtn.  

Match 13 | Colorado State vs. TCU
Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 | Fort Collins, Colo. | Moby Arena (8,745) | 1 p.m.  

Up next
The Colorado State volleyball program continues Mountain West Conference action Thursday and Saturday, playing host to New Mexico and TCU at Moby Arena. 

The Rams return to Moby Arena for the first time since Sept. 5,  having played six consecutive matches away from Fort Collins.  The team has won eight of its last nine matches, including four straight overall, and four consecutive home matches. 

CSU opens the week’s action against the New Mexico Lobos live on The Mtn. - The MountainWest Sports Network.  The match time, 7:30 p.m. MT, has been pushed back a half hour from the Rams’ normal weekday start time, to accommodate CSU’s first televised match of the season.  Anne Marie Anderson and Amy Grant will call all the action.  The Mtn. is available in Colorado on Comcast channel 411, and nationally on DirecTV channel 616. 

The Rams will then face off against the TCU Horned Frogs at 1 p.m. on Saturday. 

Rams on the radio
Each of Colorado State’s remaining matches this season will be broadcast live in the Fort Collins area on KCSU 90.5 FM.  Nick Sebesta will bring fans all the action from courtside, and will be joined by broadcast partner Ryan Hilbig for home matches.  Fans outside the normal listening area can access streaming audio via the Rams All-Access service on CSURams.com.

Lights, cameras, action
Once again, Colorado State will be among the most televised teams in the Mountain West Conference. The Rams will be televised five times in 2009. Their Sept. 24 home match against New Mexico will be broadcast live on The Mtn., as will a Nov. 12 contest at Utah. The Rams will also appear on The Mtn. on a tape-delay Oct. 22 at TCU, while their Nov. 14 match at BYU will be broadcast live on BYU-TV and re-air Nov. 15 on The Mtn. In addition, the Rams’ match vs. Northern Colorado on Sept. 30 will be appear on Comcast Entertainment Television in Colorado, and will air at 7 p.m. MT on Oct. 2. The UNC match, like the BYU match, will also re-air on The Mtn. on Monday, Oct. 5.

Follow the Rams online
Colorado State offers fans and media several options for following the CSU volleyball team. In addition to CSURams.com, which is updated daily with all the latest news on CSU athletics, fans can also log onto RamVolleyball.colostate.edu for an inside look into all things Rams Volleyball. In addition, CSU volleyball, and Head Coach Tom Hilbert are both on Twitter at twitter.com/CSUVolleyball and twitter.com/CoachHilbert.  

Live statistics are also available for Rams volleyball matches by clicking the “GameTracker” logo on the volleyball “Schedule/Results” page on CSURams.com. 

A quick look at the Rams
Colorado State returns four starters and eight letterwinners from a 2008 team that posted a 23-7 record, finished second in the Mountain West Conference with a 12-4 mark, peaked at No. 12 in the AVCA top 25 poll, and reached the NCAA tournament for the 14th consecutive season.

The Rams were selected to finish second in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll released Aug. 4. Utah, the defending champion, received eight first-place votes and was predicted to finish ahead of the Rams, who earned four first-place votes. New Mexico (3) and BYU (2) also received first-place votes and were selected to finish third and fourth, respectively. TCU, UNLV and San Diego State were slotted fifth through seventh, while Wyoming and Air Force were selected to finish eighth and ninth, respectively, in the MWC standings.

The Rams opened the season with a pair of home losses, their first in 28 consecutive matches at Moby Arena, to Pepperdine and Oregon State, but have bounced back with four straight victories, including a thrilling come-from-behind win in five sets over Ohio State on Sept. 4.

The team suffered a setback to start a four-match road swing in Carolina, falling at Duke, 3-0, on Sept. 9.  However, the Rams rebounded in impressive fashion, notching three consecutive victories over Marshall, Tennessee and North Carolina to win the Carolina Classic volleyball tournament.

Colorado State is 1-0 to open Mountain West Conference action after picking up a 3-0 victory at UNLV on Sept. 18. 

Recapping Week 4:  at UNLV
The Colorado State volleyball team (8-3, 1-0 MWC) improved to 10-1 all-time in MWC openers and snapped a three-match losing streak in Las Vegas, sweeping the UNLV Rebels (1-7, 0-1 MWC) behind strong performances from junior outside hitter Danielle Minch and sophomore setter Evan Sanders.

Minch notched her seventh consecutive match with double-digit kills, putting away a match-high 15, while hitting .357 and recording a solo block to lead the Rams to the 3-0 victory.  

Sanders was a difference maker for the Rams, recording a career-high 41 assists, her 10th consecutive match with 30 or more assists, helping CSU’s hitters post a .299 hitting percentage, while defensively the Rams held UNLV to just .141 hitting.

About New Mexico
After storming out to a 6-0 start to the 2009 season, New Mexico enters Thursday’s match vs. Colorado State riding a two-match losing streak, having dropped four of its last six including the team’s conference opener vs. TCU last Wednesday. 

The Lobos, who were selected to finish third in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll, returned 10 letterwinners and four starters from last season’s team that finished with an overall record of 22-7 (11-5 MWC) and ranked just behind CSU in the conference standings. 

Setter Jade Michaelsen, who was selected, along with CSU’s Tessa Nelson, as the MWC Co-Player of the Year, leads the Lobos, averaging 9.79 assists per set, fourth in the MWC behind the Rams’ Evan Sanders.  Junior outside hitter Lisa Meeter, a product of Colorado Springs, Colo., ranks first on the team, averaging 2.52 kills per set, and senior middle blocker Anna Lehne is the team’s top blocker, averaging 0.98 per set.  

Head Coach Jeff Nelson is in his third season at the helm of the UNM program, where he has compiled a record of 46-24. 

The Rams vs. the Lobos
Thursday’s matchup marks the 61st in the series between the Lobos and the Rams, with Colorado State holding a 39-21 advantage all-time.  Colorado State has defeated New Mexico in eight consecutive matches, and the Rams are 22-1 against the Lobos since the formation of the Mountain West Conference in 1999.

About TCU
TCU enters this week’s action tied with Colorado State at 1-0 in the Mountain West Conference, having defeated New Mexico on the road last Wednesday to open league action.  Overall, the Horned Frogs are 12-3, and are riding a seven-match winning streak, but travel to nearby Laramie, Wyo., to face the Wyoming Cowgirls on Thursday, before matching up with CSU on Saturday afternoon. 

The Horned Frogs were selected to finish fifth in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll, and return 11 letterwinners, including four starters from last season’s team that posted a record of 20-12 and finished 9-7 and in fourth place in the Mountain West Conference. 

Senior middle blocker Kourtney Edwards leads the Mountain West Conference in hitting percentage (.391) and is the team’s leader in kills, racking up 3.37 per set, which ranks fourth in the league.  Setter Megan Munce averages 9.53 assists per set (fifth in the MWC), while sophomore middle blocker Kristen Hester leads the conference with 1.29 blocks per set. 

Head Coach Prentice Lewis is in her eight season at the helm of the TCU program, where she has compiled a record of 142-103. 

The Rams vs. the Horned Frogs
Saturday’s matchup marks only the 14th in the series between the Horned Frogs and the Rams, with Colorado State holding a 10-3 advantage all-time.  However, the two teams have split their last four matches, with each team defending its home court over the past two seasons.  Since TCU joined the Mountain West Conference in 2005, Colorado State has posted a record of 6-3 against the Horned Frogs. 

Rams vs. the MWC
Since the formation of the Mountain West Conference in 1999, the Colorado State volleyball team has proven to be the most successful program in the league.  The Rams have compiled a record of 126-23 (.846) in Mountain West Conference matches, including an impressive 68-6 (.919) mark at Moby Arena vs. the MWC, and a 58-17 (.773) record on the road in league action  The team has averaged 12.5 conference victories per season, and has amassed eight more victories than the next closest program, Utah (118-32).  BYU (109-41) ranks third, followed by UNLV (74-75).

Moby Madness
Over the years, Moby Arena has provided one of the most effective home-court advantages in the NCAA for the CSU volleyball program.  Entering the 2009 season, CSU had won 28 consecutive home matches at Moby Arena, and prior to the Aug. 28-29 losses to Pepperdine and Oregon State, the Rams had not lost back-to-back home matches since suffering back-to-back losses to nationally ranked foes from BYU (#20) and Utah (#9) in the final two matches of the 2006 regular season.  Under Head Coach Tom Hilbert, the Rams are 174-23 (.883) in Moby Arena.  Since Coach Hilbert’s arrival in 1997, CSU has also played 32 ranked opponents in Moby Arena, coming away with victories in 22 of those matches, including four consecutive victories over ranked opponents at Moby dating back to a 3-0 win over No. 13 Ohio State on Aug. 30, 2007.  During that stretch, the Rams have also hosted and beaten opponents from Florida (No. 8 on Sept. 13, 2009), BYU (No. 24 on Sept. 20, 2009) and Arizona (No. 25 on Oct. 4, 2009). 

Closing in on 500
Colorado State Head Coach Tom Hilbert enters play this week just 11 wins shy of 500 for his career. Last season, Hilbert became the winningest coach in CSU annals when he surpassed Rich Feller with his 300th victory at Colorado State. To date, Hilbert has 315 victories at the helm of the CSU program.

Poll position
The Colorado State volleyball team opened the 2009 season ranked No. 24 nationally in the AVCA coaches top 25 preseason poll released Aug. 18. It marked the second consecutive season that Colorado State has appeared in the preseason top 25. Colorado State was ranked in the AVCA poll for 17 consecutive weeks, before falling out of the top 25 in the Sept. 1 poll.  The Rams are receiving votes in the latest poll released on Monday, the only MWC team to do so. 

Attendance leaders
Colorado State volleyball annually ranks among the national leaders in attendance and the 2009 season is no exception.  The Rams have averaged 1,987 fans though their first six home matches this season, including a season-best 3,876 fans at the season opener vs. Pepperdine on Aug. 28.  The Rams currently rank 13th on the list, and are the top team in the Mountain West Conference in terms of average attendance.  Thursday’s opponent, New Mexico, ranks 20th averaging 1,410 fans through seven home matches.   

Rams in the rankings
Colorado State ranks nationally in a number of different categories, including a national ranking of No. 21 (out of 329 programs ranked) with a team average of 2.66 blocks per set.  The Rams also rank 61st in winning percentage (.727), and are 110th in hitting percentage (.217), 112th in digs per set (14.59) and 128th in kills per set (12.51) through matches played Sept. 20. 

Individually, junior outside hitter Danielle Minch ranks in two categories; 70th in kills per set (3.78) and 81st in points per set (4.24).  Senior middle blocker Tessa Nelson is 45th in the country in blocks per set (1.25).  Sophomore setter Evan Sanders ranks 87th with 9.89 assists per set, and senior libero Katelin Batten is 102nd, averaging 4.22 digs per set. 

Minch on a roll
Junior outside hitter Danielle Minch has been on a roll as of late for the Rams, and recorded her seventh consecutive match with double-figures in kills on Sept. 18 at UNLV, where she led CSU with a match-high 15 kills in the Rams’ conference-opening sweep.  Entering this week’s matches vs. New Mexico and TCU, Minch ranks second in the MWC averaging 3.78 kills per set.  Her average also ranks 70th nationally as of statistics release Sept. 20.  Minch’s current run began Sept. 4 in a thrilling five-set victory over Ohio State.  During that stretch, CSU has posted a record of 6-1. 

Setting the pace
To start the 2009 season, Evan Sanders was charged with the daunting task of replacing two-time MWC Setter of the Year Ashley Fornstrom in the Rams’ lineup.  The sophomore setter from Lafayette, Colo., has not disappointed.  Sanders ranks third in the MWC, averaging 9.89 assists per set, and has amassed 366 total assists entering this week’s matches vs. New Mexico and TCU.  During the Rams’ Sept. 24 conference opener at UNLV, Sanders was particularly impressive, as she recorded a career-high 41 assists, en route to her 10th consecutive match with 30-plus assists.  Sanders also ranks third on the team with 87 digs through 11 matches, and has recorded four matches with double-figure digs.

Can you dig it?
Senior libero Katelin Batten entered the 2009 season as the Rams’ all-time leader in both digs and digs per set. Through three seasons, Batten had recorded 1,304 digs, 63 more than the previous record held by Carrie Appleman (1989-92). Batten’s career digs per set average of 3.90 also ranks atop the Rams’ record book.  With a team-best 156 digs on the season, third in the MWC at 4.22 digs per set, Batten has become the only active  player currently in the top 10 of the MWC career digs list, where she ranks fifth with 1,460 career digs. Averaging 435 digs per season, Batten is on pace to reach as high as third on the MWC list.  UNLV’s Jada Walker (2004-07) ranks first with 2,055 career digs.  Entering Thursday’s match vs. New Mexico, Batten has recorded double-figures in digs in eight consecutive matches, including two matches, Sept. 4 vs. Ohio State and Sept. 11 vs. Marshall, in which she eclipsed 20 digs for the match. 

Full Nelson
Senior middle blocker Tessa Nelson is the Rams’ lone returning all-Mountain West player from last season. Nelson, who ranked third on the team in points scored against MWC opponents in 2008, behind departed seniors Mekana Barnes and Jaime Strauss, and was also selected as the 2009 Mountain West Conference preseason co-Player of the Year, along with New Mexico’s junior setter Jade Michaelsen.  Nelson ranked 46th nationally with 1.18 blocks per set as a junior in 2008.  Needing just one block to reach 400 for her career, Nelson notched 10 during the Hilton Classic, Sept. 3-5, becoming just the 10th player in CSU history to record 400 career blocks.  She enters Thursday’s match vs. New Mexico with 429 career blocks. 

Freshmen make debuts
Redshirt freshman Brieon Paige, earning her first playing time at CSU and her first start since her senior year of high school, turned in an impressive performance for the Rams against UT Arlington on Sept. 5.  Paige recorded eight kills while hitting .500 for the match, and adding four blocks in her collegiate debut. 

Freshman middle blocker Tori Brummett also made her collegiate debut for the Rams in the Hilton Classic, earning a start against Georgia Southern on Sept. 3.  Brummett notched four kills and two assisted blocks to help the Rams to a 3-0 victory over the Eagles.

More fresh faces
Freshmen Izzy Gaulia, a defensive specialist from Glendale, Ariz., and Dana Cranston, an outside hitter from Fort St. John, B.C., have both made tremendous impacts on the Rams early in the season.  Gaulia has appeared in seven of the Rams’ 11 matches, and is averaging 1.5 digs per set.  Cranston has appeared in each of the Rams’ matches, showing off her all-around skill by averaging 0.78 kills, 0.58 assists, 1.55 digs and 0.48 blocks per set. 

Redshirt freshman Megan Plourde, who was granted a medial hardship waiver after appearing in five sets in 2008, leads the freshmen class with 48 kills and .280 hitting percentage. Plourde recorded a career high with nine kills and hitting .462 against North Carolina on Sept. 12. She also led the Rams with seven blocks against Duke.

Junior class
Juniors Danielle Minch and Jacque Davisson have been a force to be reckoned with so far this season, and both were selected for Carolina Classic all-tournament team, with Minch earning MVP honors. Davisson was also named all-tournament team at Asics/Coors Classic (MVP) and Hilton Classic.  The third-year players rank 1-2 in kills for the Rams, each eclipsing 100 kills through 10 matches this season. Minch ranks first with 125 total kills and is second in the MWC with an average of 3.68 kills per set.  Davisson ranks seventh in the MWC, averaging 2.94 kills per set.  They are the only Rams to have consecutive double-figure kill matches this season with Davisson currently riding a streak of five consecutive matches, and Minch on a six-match run. Davisson has also notched three double-doubles on the season, including two in  a row vs. Marshall (11 kills, 11 digs) and Tennessee (11 kills, 15 digs) at the Carolina Classic, Sept. 11-12. 

Double Trouble
Sophomore setter Evan Sanders recorded her first-career double-double with 32 assists and 10 digs against Oregon State on Aug. 29.  Sanders joins junior outside hitter Jacque Davisson and senior middle blocker Tessa Nelson as active Rams with double-doubles in their careers.

Home away from home
While Colorado State has annually ranks among the national leaders in terms of home wins, including back-to-back undefeated seasons of 14-0 in 2007 and 2008,  CSU has also fared well on the road since Head Coach Tom Hilbert’s arrival in Fort Collins in 1997.  Overall, Colorado State is 141-59 (.705) away from Moby Arena under Hilbert’s guidance, including last week’s 3-0 victory at UNLV to open MWC play.   

Recapping Week 1:  The Asics/Coors Classic
Colorado State opened the season by posting a record of 1-2 at the Asics/Coors Classic at Moby Arena. The Rams rebounded from back-to-back home losses to Pepperdine, 3-0,  and Oregon State, 3-0, closing the tournament with an impressive 3-0 win over the Cal Poly Mustangs. 

Pepperdine captured the tournament championship with a perfect 3-0 record that included sweeps of CSU and Cal Poly, and a 3-1 victory over Oregon State.  The Beavers finished second with an overall record 2-1.  The Rams took home third place, while Cal Poly finished 0-3 on the weekend to finish last in the field. 

Colorado State junior outside hitter Jacque Davisson was selected to the Asics/Coors Classic all-tournament team, along with Oregon State’s Rachel Rourke and Jill Sawatzky, and Pepperdine’s Rachel Grochmal, Lilla Frederick, and tournament MVP Kiah Fiers.

Recapping Week 2:  The Hilton Classic
The Colorado State volleyball team racked up three victories, running its winning streak to four matches, and took home the title at the 2009 Hilton Classic.  Behind the strong play of junior outside hitters Jacque Davisson and Danielle Minch, and senior middle blocker Tessa  Nelson, all of whom earned all-tourney honors (Davisson, MVP), the Rams picked up dominant three-set sweeps  over Georgia Southern and UT Arlington, and a thrilling five-set, come-from-behind victory against Big Ten foe Ohio State.

Recapping Week 3:  At Duke and the Carolina Classic
Colorado State headed to North Carolina for four matches in four days, Sept. 9-12, and came home with a 3-1 record and a tournament title.  The Rams opened the week with a disappointing loss against the Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.  The Blue Devils stymied the Rams and snapped a four-match winning streak, capturing the 3-1 victory. 

Colorado State bounced back quickly, winning its final three matches of the week and capturing the 2009 Carolina Classic tournament title.  The Rams opened the tournament, hosted in Chapel Hill, N.C. by the UNC Tar Heels, with a sweep of previously undefeated Marshall.  CSU then toppled the Tennessee Lady Vols in four sets, thanks to 18 kills by junior outside hitter Danielle Minch.  CSU closed out the tournament by defeating the host Tar Heels 3-0. 

Three Rams earned all-tournament honors, led by Minch who was selected as the tournament MVP.  Junior outside hitter Jacque Davisson and senior libero Katelin Batten joined Minch on the all-tourney team.  It marked Davisson’s second all-tournament honor in as many weeks, after being named the MVP of the HIlton Classic, hosted by CSU Sept. 3-5. 

Ticket information
Season tickets are on sale now, and start at just $75 for adult general admission. Single-match tickets begin at just $6 for adults and $4 for youth (ages 3-17). Mini-plans, including the Pick 5 Plan and the Pepsi 4-Pack, are also available for purchase.

More information on volleyball tickets is available by visiting CSURams.com, calling 1-800/491-RAMS or stopping by the CSU athletic ticket office at the McGraw Athletic Center between 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.



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