Nov. 5, 2011
By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo.—Less than 24 hours after claiming a share of the 2011 Mountain West regular-season title, the CSU Rams won the conference outright, thanks to a TCU loss Saturday afternoon.
The championship is the Rams’ third consecutive and ninth overall in the league’s 13-year history. CSU has also won the MW tournament four times, which will be played this season for the first time since 2007.
“It’s great to win a third-straight title,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “It says a lot about the program we have here at CSU and the particular athletes we recruit. We feel like we know the type of athletes we need to win this conference, and we are patient with those athletes and we develop them into champions.”
The Rams, currently ranked No. 24 nationally, are 11-1 in MW action with two matches to play. After TCU’s 3-0 loss at San Diego State on Saturday, CSU holds a 2.5-match advantage over the Horned Frogs and Aztecs, the conference’s second-place teams. CSU swept Wyoming—its seventh consecutive sweep—Friday evening in the team’s final match at Moby Arena.
With the regular-season title, CSU will hold the No. 1 seed in the MW volleyball championship tournament, which will be played in Albuquerque, N.M., Nov. 18-20. Winless Air Force has guaranteed the No. 8 seed, and will be CSU’s first opponent in the tournament.
While the ninth regular-season title is an honor, Hilbert stressed the importance of winning the tournament, which is the league’s only guaranteed NCAA tournament berth.
“It’s great,” Hilbert said, “but since we still have so much volleyball to play, it’s like getting a big win, but you need to turn your attention to the next game. We cannot afford to play matches where it hurts our RPI or seeding in the NCAA tournament. I believe the MW tournament is more important than the regular-season title, and I’ve been saying that all season.”
Since the formation of the MW in 1999, CSU is an incredible 165-27 (.859 winning percentage). The Rams also hold an 18-5 record in the nine-year history of the tournament, appearing in the finals six times and winning it on four occasions.
CSU will close out its conference schedule on Thursday at TCU (6 p.m. MT; one-hour tape delay on The Mtn.) and Saturday at New Mexico (1 p.m. MT). Several great ticket packages are available for the MW tournament. The ticket order form can be found here.