Dec. 1, 2013
NCAA Tournament Central
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FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The ninth-ranked Colorado State women's volleyball team will compete in its 19th consecutive NCAA tournament, and this year's road to the Final Four will begin in Los Angeles, Calif. Announced Sunday evening on ESPNU, Colorado State (28-1) will face Cal State Northridge (23-6) in the first round of the tournament, Thursday at 6 p.m. MT at the Galen Center.
"I’m happy to be in the NCAA tournament, I really am," Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. "This was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and we had an incredible year; I’m happy to be here. This isn’t a question of how much we’re respected; it’s how they do this tournament. We’re playing good teams, and we’re playing in the NCAA tournament; you have to be happy about that.”
Completing the other side of the sub-regional is New Hampshire (20-12) and No. 6 seed and host Southern California (26-5). The two winners Thursday will play each other Friday at 8 p.m. MT.
Cal State Northridge earned a share of the Big West title, finishing 13-3, along within UC Santa Barbara and Hawai'i. The Rams and Matadors played several common opponents this season, including, UC Santa Barbara, Denver, Fresno State and San Diego State. The Rams went 5-1 against those teams, while the Matadors were 3-2, losing twice to UC Santa Barbara, which the Rams defeated in four sets on a neutral court in September.
"Cal State Northridge is very good and was nationally ranked for part of the season," Hilbert said. "They’re in the same region that we’re in, so I’ve been on the all-region calls all year. They have some good wins; they beat Hawai’i this year, for example. They beat a lot of good teams. They have a setter who’s outstanding. They’re probably very similar to us – they’re a good, efficient team; not overly athletic, but they’re going to be very good.”
The Rams earned the Mountain West's automatic bid after going 19-1 in conference play. CSU has been to the postseason 25 times overall, including 19 consecutive seasons, a streak which ranks seventh nationally among active streaks.
CSU has played Cal State Northridge five times in its history, earning a 4-1 record. The Rams have won four straight in the series, but haven't met since 2005. CSU is 3-6 vs. Southern California, and has never played New Hampshire.
Overall, CSU is 22-24 in NCAA tournament matches, winning its first-round match in five of the past six seasons, and advancing to the Sweet 16 nine times in the program's 24 prior trips, most recently in 2009.
"I think it's a great opportunity for us, maybe show people that we were underestimated," senior Samantha Peters said. "We haven't really had the chance to prove ourselves. It will be fun to get out there and see what else is against us."
The Rams finished the regular season 28-1, securing the best winning percentage in school history. They began the season 27-0, setting program and Mountain West records for consecutive victories and wins to start a season. Entering the postseason, CSU has won 14 straight matches away from Moby Arena, also a program record.
CSU has been reserved 150 seats for this week's sub-regional. They will go on sale Monday morning through the McGraw Athletic Center ticket office and over the phone at 1-800-491-RAMS.
- The Rams have now advanced to 25 NCAA tournaments, including 19 consecutive. Just 10 teams have earned more overall berths than CSU.
- CSU's stretch of 19 straight tournament appearances ranks seventh nationally among active streaks. All-time, CSU is 22-24 in the tournament.
- The Rams are 4-1 against Cal State Northridge, including 2-1 on a neutral court. Overall, the Rams own a 7-7 record against the three teams in its pod.
- The Rams are 7-13 all-time while playing in the city of Los Angeles, but earlier this season played just outside of L.A., in Malibu, going 3-0 to win the Pepperdine Invitational. The Rams are 2-3 against Southern California in Los Angeles, but 1-0 when playing on USC's campus.
- The Rams are 17-7 all-time in the first round of the NCAA tournament, including victories each season from 2007-11.
- Senior Michelle Smith, who has amassed a 124-26 (.827) record during her five-year career at CSU, is 4-4 in NCAA tournament matches, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2009.
- Two of CSU's 2013 opponents are represented in the tournament. UC Santa Barbara will face San Diego, while Texas A&M will play UTSA. The Rams beat both the Gauchos and Aggies.
- Should the Rams win two matches this week and advance to the Sweet 16, they will return to Los Angeles, as Southern California is a regional host site (Dec. 13-14).