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Volleyball Preview – Match #1 vs. UNLV & SDSU

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Home Sweet Home: The Rams will play at home for the first time since September 9 when they continue Mountain West Conference action with UNLV on Friday and San Diego State on Saturday to celebrate Homecoming. The pair played each other to open league play last Friday with San Diego State defeated the Rebels in three games. The Rams started the season with their first seven matches at home, posting a 5-2 record, before hitting the road for eight matches and going 6-2 during the stretch away from Moby.

Perfect At 2-0: Colorado State defeated Utah in four games to move to 11-4 on the year and 2-0 in league play, 30-25, 20-27, 28-30, 30-15. Junior middle blocker Katie Jo Shirley led the Rams with 15 kills, while junior libero Lindsey Kerr led the team with 13 digs. Both junior middle blocker Bri Frech and sophomore right side hitter Dre Downs led the team with five blocks and junior setter Melissa Courtney tied her career high with five service aces. Shirley also led all players with a .500 hitting percentage.

Starting With A Sweep: Colorado State opened conference action at BYU, winning in three straight games, 30-20, 30-20, 30-26. The Rams have now won 27 straight matches after winning the first two games. Katie Jo Shirley and junior outside hitter Becky Sarauer led the Rams with 16 kills each, while Bri Frech and Lindsey Kerr led with 11 digs each. Frech also led the team with five blocks, while Melissa Courtney tied her career-high with two solo blocks, doing so for the second time in three matches. She also had 46 assists on the evening. The Rams hit .313 for the match, and held the Cougars to a .123 hitting percentage. Colorado State also out-blocked and out-dug the Rams 11-8 and 42-37, respectively.

Mountain West Supremacy: Colorado State is the only team in Mountain West history to ever sweep the BYU-Utah road trip and the Rams have done so in back-to-back seasons. Colorado State also swept the road trip in 1984 when the Rams went 12-0 in the High Country Athletic Conference and finished with a 26-9 overall record. The last Mountain West school to win both matches was New Mexico back in 1991 and the only other schools to win both matches during that stretch are Texas A&M in 1995, Arizona in 2000 and Hawai'i in 2002.

Starting On The Right Foot: Colorado State has started all five Mountain West Conference seasons with a 2-0 record in league play and started the first four seasons of the league with at least four straight wins. The longest winning streak to start conference was 12 matches in 2001 when the Rams went 13-1 and won the regular season title. Since 1995, the Rams have won at least twice to start league play.

Closing In: The next win for Colorado State will be the 350th career win for head coach Tom Hilbert. The win over Utah on Saturday was Hilbert's 175th at Colorado State and he now has a 52-6 record in Mountain West play and is 76-14 in his career against Mountain West institutions.

Moby Maniacs: The Rams are 4-0 in Mountain West Conference home openers and have won their last six league home openers in Moby Arena. Since the inception of the league in 1999, the Rams have posted a 27-1 home record in conference matches, losing only to BYU in five games last season.

Moving On Up: With 92 assists over the weekend, junior setter Melissa Courtney moved into sixth on the Colorado State career charts. She now has 2239 assists and is just 396 assists shy of fifth on the career assists chart.

Leaps And Bounds: Katie Jo Shirley recorded her 500th career kill over the weekend and now has 527. She became eligible for the career hitting percentage record at Colorado State with her 500th kill and leaped onto the charts in second with a .376 hitting efficiency (527-142-1025). She ranks behind only Angela Knopf, who hit .393 for her career (1998-2001).

Back In: Colorado State returned to the top 25 this week and becomes the first Mountain West school to be ranked this season. The Rams last appeared in the poll on Sept. 16, 2002, an absence of 18 weeks. Colorado State has been ranked a total of 68 weeks during Tom Hilbert’s tenure.

Quick Start Important: The first game of a match is extremely important this season. The Rams are 9-0 when winning game one of a match and 2-4 when losing the first stanza.

Turning Up The Heat: After hitting .247 as a team and digging just 11.6 balls per game in the first 10 matches of the season, the Rams have stepped up their play. Over the last five matches, the Rams are hitting .273 as a team and are getting 13.58 digs per contest. They are also blocking 2.95 balls per game, compared to 2.59 through the first 10 contests.

Aces Are Wild: Melissa Courtney tied for 12th on the Colorado State single match record list with five aces against Utah on Saturday. She tied her career high with the five aces and leads the Mountain West in conference play in aces per game at 0.71.

Block Party: Sophomore outside hitter Tess Rogers has had two solo blocks in a match twice in her career. Both have come at Utah. Rogers has 22 solo blocks in her two seasons, 14 as a freshman and eight this season and is averaging 0.48 total blocks per game for her career.

The Stats Have It: The outcome of the match has become predictable based on the Colorado State statistics. The Rams are 9-0 when winning game one, 8-0 when winning the first two games and 0-2 when losing the first two games. They are 8-0 when recording more digs than the opponent and 4-0 when hitting over .300 for the match. The Rams are also 5-0 when holding the opponent to below a .100 hitting percentage.

Oh So Close: Several Rams are closing in on career milestones. Katie Jo Shirley needs just five more blocks for the 200th of her career and with eight more digs, Dre Downs will tally the 200th in that category. Tess Rogers is just 24 kills shy of her 600th.

Block Party: In the first two conference matches, the Rams have 12 solo blocks, which equals the total of the six previous matches. In 13 non-conference matches the Rams had 34 solo stops, for a 0.72 solo block per game average. In conference action the Rams have an average of 1.71 per game.

Getting A Lot Of Action: Four players, Melissa Courtney, Bri Frech, Becky Sarauer and Katie Jo Shirley have played in all 54 games this season for the Rams, but no player has seen action during every point. At one time or another, all four have been substituted for.

Ticket Information: Tickets to all home Colorado State matches are available by calling the Ram Ticket Office at 1-800-491-RAMS or locally, 491-RAMS. Tickets are also available for purchase on the Colorado State website at www.csurams.com. Reserved single-match tickets are just $6, while general admission is $5 and youth general admission is $3 (ages 3-18). CSU students are admitted for free.

Queens Of the Mountain: Colorado State leads the conference in kills with 16.04, assists with 14.85 and opponent hitting percentage, allowing just .144. The Rams are also second in hitting percentage at .256 and fourth in blocks at 2.71 per game. Individually, Katie Jo Shirley is the only player in the Mountain West to be hitting above .400, hitting .421 and she ranks ninth in kills per game at 3.65. Melissa Courtney leads the league in assists per game at 12.98 per game and ranks seventh in aces per game at 0.39. Becky Sarauer ranks fifth with 3.96 kills per game and Lindsey Kerr ranks 5th in digs with a 3.06 per game average. Bri Frech ranks seventh in blocks per game with a 1.19 average.

Player of the Week: Junior middle blocker Katie Jo Shirley earned Mountain West Player of the Week honors on Sept. 22. Shirley paced the Rams to a 2-1 record at the Diet Coke Classic. An all-tournament team member, Shirley produced double-doubles in two of three matches and nearly led the Rams to an upset over No. 22 Minnesota, totaling 10 kills and 11 digs in a five-game loss. On Saturday, Shirley posted her first career 20-20 performance with 20 kills and 21 digs against UW-Milwaukee. She added 10 kills and seven digs against UNC-Charlotte. She committed just one error in 44 swings in Saturday's victories and hit .531 for the week, while averaging 3.33 kills, 3.25 digs and .92 blocks per game.

Early Starts: Colorado State has an impressive streak of wins when winning the first two games in a match. The Rams are 101-1 when winning the first two games in a contest since the beginning of the 1999 season and have won their last 26. The only loss during that stretch was the championship match of the Mountain West Tournament against Utah in 2001. This season, the Rams are 7-0 and were a perfect 17-0 last year. In 1999, they were 24-0 and 28-0 in 2000. The 2001 season the Rams were 25-1.

Sunday Night Spike: Colorado State will play in a live televised match on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 4:00 p.m. The Rams host Utah as College Sports Television (www.cstv.com) and the AVCA present a national volleyball match every week called Sunday Night Spike 2003. The match will be part of a doubleheader with Pepperdine and Santa Clara squaring off at 2:00 p.m. prior to the start of the Rams-Utes clash.

Helping Hands: According to the NCAA Statistics -- as of Sept. 21 -- Melissa Courtney ranks 21st in assists per game while the team ranks 29th in the country. Katie Jo Shirley also ranks 20th in hitting percentage at .421. Lauren Goehring of Kansas State leads the nation at .491.

Quick Hits On UNLV: The Rebels are 6-6 on the season and 0-1 in Mountain West Conference play after dropping a three-game match to San Diego State last Friday. Colorado State has won the last nine meetings between the two teams and holds a 14-2 advantage in the all-time series.
UNLV is led by Leiana Oswald with 4.41 kills per game and a .258 hitting percentage. She also leads the team with 11 service aces. Patricia Assuncao leads the teams with 93 digs (2.27 per game) and she and Michelle Johnson both have 42 blocks to lead the squad. UNLV has used two setters this season. Nicki King is averaging 11.94 assists per game -- but was injured in the Loyola Marymount match on Sept. 18, and Tamara Kauliakamoa has started the last two matches and is averaging 6.62 assists per contest.
The team is averaging 14.76 kills, 1.52 aces, 13.86 digs and 2.54 blocks per game and is hitting at a .223 clip. This will be the first road game for the Rebels in conference play and overall this season they are 3-5 outside of their home gym.
Deitre Collins is eighth season with the Rebels and has a career record of 82-125 and a 37-64 record in conference play. She is 14-2 against Colorado State.

Quick Hits On San Diego State: The Aztecs will play at Wyoming before facing the Rams on Saturday. Beginning the week, San Diego State has a 9-6 overall record and is 1-0 in league action. The Aztecs own a 14-11 lead in the all time series and snapped an eight match winning streak for Colorado State in San Diego last season.
The Aztecs are led by co-Mountain West Player of the Year in 2002 in Aspen McPartland. She is averaging 3.73 kills per game and leads the team with a .351 hitting percentage. Megan Schauermann leads the Aztecs with 1.62 blocks per game and Kara Moriarty leads with 2.23 digs per contest. Setter Sara Engstrom is averaging 11.62 assists per game and she and Robyn Gregg are both averaging 0.29 aces per game (15 on the year) to lead in that category.
As a team, San Diego State is averaging 15.23 kills, 1.27 aces, 12.92 digs and 3.45 blocks per game and is hitting at a .237 pace.
Mark Warner is in his ninth season with the Aztecs and has a career record of 148-114. He and Tom Hilbert were named co-coaches of the year last season in the Mountain West Conference.




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