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Rams set to host Northern Colorado, visit Wyoming

Sept. 29, 2009

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Match 14 | Colorado State vs. Northern Colorado
Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009 | Fort Collins, Colo. | Moby Arena (8,745) | 7 p.m.

Match 15 | Colorado State vs. Wyoming
Friday, Oct. 2, 2009 | Laramie, Wyo. | UniWyo Complex (1,200) | 7 p.m.

Up next
The Colorado State volleyball program plays host to the Northern Colorado Bears on Wednesday evening at Moby Arena, before traveling to nearby Laramie, Wyo., for a Friday night tilt against “Border War” rival Wyoming. 

The Rams close a three-match homestand, and look to extend overall and home winning streaks of six matches against the in-state rival Bears beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. 

The contest, will be televised on Comcast Entertainment Television (CET) on a tape-delay basis.  It will be broadcast Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m., and is available to Comcast Cable subscribers on Channel 5 in the Denver-Metro and Northern Colorado viewing areas, and Channel 4 in Southern Colorado.  The match will also re-air Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. on The Mtn. (Comcast Channel 411; DirecTV Channel 616).  Brian Roth (play-by-play) and Mary Kay Mauro (color) will call all the action for CET.  
Colorado State then continues Mountain West Conference action and renews one of its oldest rivalries against the Wyoming Cowgirls at the UniWyo Sports Complex at 7 p.m. on Friday. 

The Rams will look to remain unbeaten in league play, having recorded sweeps at UNLV, and at home vs. New Mexico and TCU, to climb into a tie with Utah atop the MWC standings.  The Cowgirls (8-8, 0-3 MWC) also host the Adams State Grizzlies at 7 p.m. Tuesday. 

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, Ryan Hilbig and Andy Boshoven will bring fans all the action from courtside.  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.

The Rams enter action this week in a tie with Utah atop the Mountain West Conference Standings, and are winners of six straight, and 10 of their last 11, including three consecutive sweeps over UNLV (Sept. 18), New Mexico (Sept. 24) and TCU (Sept. 26), to open MWC play. 

Recapping Week 5:  New Mexico and TCU
The Colorado State volleyball team improved to 10-3 overall and 3-0 in the Mountain West Conference, earning three-set sweeps over MWC foes New Mexico (Sept. 24) and TCU (Sept. 26).  With the victories, the Rams ran their win streak to six consecutive matches overall, and six straight home matches, while moving into a tie with Utah at 3-0 in the MWC standings. 

Megan Plourde, a redshirt freshman from Somerset, Wis., led the Rams over the weekend.  Plourde recorded her first-career double-digit kills match in front of 2,135 fans vs. the Lobos, while notching five assisted blocks and recording a hitting percentage of .769, just outside of CSU’s all-time top-5 list.  She followed up that performance six kills and a match-high seven blocks to help the Rams to victory over TCU.  Overall in the two matches, Plourde recorded 16 kills on .517 hitting and averaged an impressive 2.0 blocks per set. 

Junior outside hitter Jacque Davisson led the Rams with 21 total kills, to go along with seven assisted blocks, 13 digs and a service ace. 

Sophomore setter Evan Sanders was also impressive, notching 63 assists in the two matches, while recorded back-to-back career highs for kills with four vs. New Mexico and seven vs. TCU. 

About Northern Colorado
After jumping out to a 3-0 start to the season, and cooling to a 6-5 record after a loss vs. Iowa State on Sept. 12, Northern Colorado has won three of four matches to improve to 9-6 on the season.  The team’s three victories over that stretch have been dominant performances over three Big Sky opponents, Weber State, Idaho State and Sacramento State, in which the Bears have lost just one set.  The team’s only loss during that stretch is a five-set defeat at Denver on Sept. 22.  UNC is 3-1 in road matches this season, having picked up victories at North Texas, at Iowa and at Sacramento State, and suffering the loss to DU.  They sit just behind Eastern Washington (8-5, 4-0 Big Sky) in the Big Sky Conference standings. 

Senior outside hitter Kenzie Shreeve leads the Bears attack, averaging 3.22 kills per set, while setter Marissa Hughes has averaged 10.36 assists per set to start the 2009 season.  Senior middle blocker Taylor Smith ranks as the team’s top blocker, averaging 0.81 per set. 

Head coach Lyndsey Benson is in her fifth season at the helm of the UNC program, where she has compiled a record of 63-68. 

Rams vs. Bears
Wednesday’s matchup marks the 19th in the series between the Bears and the Rams, with Colorado State holding a 12-6 advantage all-time.  Colorado State has defeated Northern Colorado in seven consecutive matches, including a 3-0 victory in Moby Arena in 2007 and a 3-1 victory last season in Greeley.  Prior to that, the two teams had not met on the court since playing four times in 1983, all CSU victories.  

About Wyoming
The Cowgirls, who were selected to finish eighth in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll, enters this week’s action in last place in the league standings with an overall record of 8-8, and an 0-3 mark to start MWC play.  The team will host Adams State College on Tuesday evening before facing the Rams at 7 p.m. Friday night in Laramie.

Since opening the season with a 7-3 start, the team has lost five of its last six contests dating back to a Sept. 18 setback at New Hampshire.  After picking up a 3-1 win over Harvard on Sept. 19, the team has dropped MWC matches at UNLV (3-2), and at home vs. TCU (3-0) and New Mexico (3-1). 

Freshman outside hitter Jodi Purdy ranks third in the Mountain West Conference in kills per set, just behind BYU’s Kayla Walker and CSU’s Danielle Minch.  She is the only freshman to appear in the top 10.  Junior setter Barbara Lasic averages 10.64 assists per set, which ranks second in the MWC. 

As a team, the Cowgirls rank just behind CSU in the MWC in terms of team hitting percentage at .208, but rank eight in blocking, at 1.99 per set. 

Head coach Carrie Yerty is in her second season at the helm of the Wyoming program, where she has compiled a record of 13-28.  Overall, she is 246-202 in 14 seasons as a head coach. 

Rams vs. Cowgirls
Friday’s matchup marks  the 66th meeting in the “Border War” series between Colorado State and Wyoming.  Colorado State holds a 47-18 advantage in the all-time series. Since the formation of the Mountain West Conference in 1999, the Rams are 20-0 against the Cowgirls.  CSU has won 22 consecutive matches dating back to a 3-0 road loss on Nov. 17, 1997, Head Coach Tom Hilbert’s first season at CSU. 

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 128-23 (.848) in Mountain West Conference matches, including an impressive 70-6 (.921) 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 entered the 2009 season with nine more victories than the next closest program, Utah.

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 176-23 (.884) 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 nine 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 317 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 1,913 fans though their first eight home matches this season, including a season-best 3,876 fans at the season opener vs. Pepperdine on Aug. 28.  The Rams currently rank 14th on the list, and are the top team in the Mountain West Conference in terms of average attendance.  New Mexico also ranks 21st 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. 15 (out of 329 programs ranked) with a team average of 2.76 blocks per set.  The Rams also rank 40th in winning percentage (.769), and are 75th in hitting percentage (.232), 90th in kills per set (12.86), 104th in digs per set (14.79), and 119th in assists per set (11.67) through matches played Sept. 27. 

Individually, junior outside hitter Danielle Minch ranks in two categories: 88th in kills per set (3.63) and 110th in points per set (4.05).  Senior middle blocker Tessa Nelson is 40th in the country in blocks per set (1.24), while freshman middle blocker Megan Plourde ranks 139th in the same category (1.00).  Plourde is also the only Ram to rank nationally in hitting percentage, checking in at No. 122 with a .331 hitting percentage.  Sophomore setter Evan Sanders ranks 89th with 9.98 assists per set, and senior libero Katelin Batten is 116th, averaging 4.12 digs per set. 

Plourde playing well
Redshirt freshman Megan Plourde, who was granted a medial hardship waiver after appearing in five sets in 2008, leads CSU’s freshman class with 64 kills, and ranks first on the team with hitting percentage of .331, entering this week’s matches vs. Northern Colorado and at Wyoming. 

Since notching a then-career-high nine kills at North Carolina on Sept. 12, Plourde has recorded 32 kills on .491 hitting with a team-leading 17 total blocks in the Rams’ last four matches, all three-set sweeps. 

Plourde was particularly impressive vs. New Mexico (Sept. 24) and TCU (Sept. 26) at Moby Arena.  She opened the week’s action with 10 kills, her first double-digit kills performance,  against the Lobos.  Plourde hit .769 (10-0-13) in that match, and chipped in five blocks.  Against the Horned Frogs, Plourde added six more kills on .312 hitting, to go along with a career-high and match-high seven blocks. 

Minch killing the competition
Junior outside hitter Danielle Minch recorded double-figures kills in seven consecutive matches for the Rams between Sept. 4 and Sept. 18, leading the Rams to a 6-1 mark over that time.  The stretch began with a 16-kill performance in the Rams’ five-set thriller over Ohio State, and continued Sept. 5 vs. UT Arligton as CSU rolled to the Hilton Classic tournament title and Minch earned all-tournament honors.  The Sterling, Colo., native then took the show on the road, recording 14 kills in a loss at Duke, and collecting 44 kills during three matches - vs. Marshall (13), vs. Tennessee (18), and at North Carolina (13) - en route to tournament MVP honors at the Carolina Classic.  Minch then led CSU to a conference-opening victory at UNLV on Sept. 24, recording 15 kills.  

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 9.98 assists per set, and has amassed 429 total assists entering this week’s matches vs. Northern Colorado and Wyoming. 

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 showed off another part of her game vs. New Mexico (Sept. 24) and TCU (Sept. 26).  After recording a career-best four kills in a 3-0 sweep of the Lobos, Sanders bested the mark in the Rams’ next match, putting away seven kills on .700 hitting. 

Sanders also ranks second on the team with 105 digs through 13 matches, and has recorded five 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 177 digs on the season, third in the MWC at 4.12 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 1,481 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 Wednesday’s match vs. Northern Colorado, Batten has recorded double-figures in digs in 10 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 Wednesday’s match vs. Northern Colorado with 436 career blocks, one shy of tying Summer Jennings (1997-2000) for fifth on the Rams’ all-time list.  Angela Knopf (1998-01) ranks first with 630 blocks, followed by Mekana Barnes (2005-08) with 518, Diane Saba (1983-87) with 482, and Stephanie Montgomery (1986-88, 1990) with 442. 

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’ 13 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 0.59 kills, 0.56 assists, 1.46 digs and 0.41 blocks per set. 

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. Entering Wednesday’s match vs. UNC, Minch ranks first with 156 total kills and is second in the MWC with an average of 3.63 kills per set.  Davisson ranks sixth in the MWC, averaging 3.00 kills per set. 

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.  She now has five on the season after posting double-doubles vs.  Ohio State (35 assists, 10 digs), at Duke (31 assists, 11 digs), vs. Tennessee (36 assists, 16 digs), and vs. TCU (26 assists, 11 digs). 

Home away from home
While Colorado State 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.  CSU will put that mark to the test on Friday at Wyoming. 

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.

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.

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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