Nov. 16, 2013
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FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Head Coach Tom Hilbert and the Colorado State women’s volleyball program added another trophy to its collection on Saturday, winning a fifth consecutive Mountain West conference championship.
A night after the 10th-ranked Rams improved to 16-0 in MW play to clinch a share of the title, Colorado State won the conference outright following Fresno State’s loss at Utah State Saturday. CSU has four regular-season matches remaining.
“Our goal at the start of the season was to win the Mountain West, so I’m very proud of these players for accomplishing that goal,” Hilbert said. “However, we’re not satisfied. Now our focus is on winning all of our Mountain West games; that is what we want to do. I don’t want to let the air out of the balloon. We need to stay focused and win matches.”
With the championship, the Rams earn the Mountain West’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, CSU’s 19th in a row. Entering 2013, the streak was the seventh-longest active streak in the NCAA, and all-time CSU has appeared in more NCAA tournaments (25) than all but 10 teams nationally.
The 2013 season has been a record-breaking year so far, which is even more impressive given the expectations. The Rams graduated four starters from last year’s championship squad, and lost more than 60 percent of their total point production. CSU was predicted to finish second in the league for the first time since 2009.
“This is a wonderful group of players,” Hilbert said. “They’re incredibly consistent, and they play very low-error volleyball. We have some good competitors on this team, and have a balanced team with players who step up at the right time. They truly are special, and I’m proud to coach them.”
With the championship, CSU has won five consecutive regular-season titles, which has been matched just one other time. CSU also accomplished the feat from 2000-04. In the league’s 14-year history, the Rams have won the regular season 11 times, in addition to five Mountain West tournament titles in nine opportunities. The Rams are 195-31 (.863) all-time in MW matches.
At the start of the season, just three other schools had won their respective conference title in each of the past four seasons. However, none are currently leading their conference in 2013.
With a 16-0 start to its MW slate, CSU is looking to go undefeated in league play, something that has happened twice. The 2003 Rams went 14-0 before remaining perfect with three victories in the MW tournament. In 2006, Utah went 16-0 during the regular season, but were upset by the Rams in the finals of the tournament.
The CSU volleyball program has won 19 conference titles in its history – 14 regular season and five tournament – more than any other sport at CSU. Hilbert has earned 17 of those, in addition to five at Idaho, his previous head coaching stop.
While Hilbert and the Rams aren't satisfied with their season so far, they have already established several impressive records:
- 25-0 - program and MW record for wins to start a season
- 25 straight victories - program record; ties MW mark; second-longest active streak in the NCAA
- 33 consecutive regular-season wins since Oct. 27, 2012 - program record; longest active streak in the NCAA
- 21 straight wins at home since Sept. 27, 2012 - tied for second-longest in program history; third-longest active streak in the NCAA
- 15 consecutive true road wins since Oct. 27, 2012 - program record
- Top-10 ranking - highest ranking since 2004
- Top 10 in attendance - on pace for highest average attendance in program history
The Rams will make their final road trip of the regular season this week, traveling to San José State (Thursday) and Fresno State (Saturday). CSU will then return home the following week for matches against San Diego State (Nov. 27) and UNLV (Nov. 29). The team will honor its three seniors prior to the match vs. UNLV, and following, will be presented with the championship trophy.