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Match notes: CSU volleyball hosts NCAA tournament at Moby Arena

Dec. 2, 2009

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2009 NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds
Dec. 3 and 4, 2009 | Fort Collins, Colo. | Moby Arena (8,745)

NCAA tourney back at Moby
The Colorado State volleyball program (23-5, 15-1 MWC) makes its 15th consecutive appearance, and the program’s 21st all-time appearance, in the NCAA tournament. 

Rounds 1 and 2 will be hosted by Colorado State University at Moby Arena (8,745) in Fort Collins, Colo. 

Opening round matchups at Moby begin Thursday, Nov. 3, when the sixth-seeded Washington Huskies (23-5), an at-large bid recipient from the Pac-10 Conference, face the Big Sky champion Northern Colorado Bears (21-11) at 5 p.m. MT. 

Colorado State (23-5), the automatic qualifier from the Mountain West Conference, will face Sun Belt Conference champion Middle Tennessee State (25-9) in the first round. The matchup between the Rams and Blue Raiders is slated to begin approximately 7:30 p.m. MT. 

The winners of each match will then meet at 7 p.m. MT on Friday, Nov. 4, for the chance to advance to the Minneapolis Regional, Dec. 11-12. 

Rams on the radio
All of Colorado State’s postseason matches 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 at CSURams.com.  Streaming audio throughout the postseason will be available free of charge. 

Lights, cameras, action
Colorado State was among the most televised teams in the Mountain West Conference in 2009, making five appearances in the regular season. Their Sept. 24 home match against New Mexico was broadcast live on The Mtn., as was a Nov. 12 contest at Utah. The Rams also appeared on The Mtn. Oct. 22 at TCU, while their Nov. 14 match at BYU was broadcast live on BYU-TV and re-aired Nov. 15 on The Mtn. In addition, the Rams’ match vs. Northern Colorado on Sept. 30 appeared on Comcast Entertainment Television in Colorado.

Streaming video will be available for all matches hosted by Colorado State for the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament.  Fans can access the video feeds by logging onto CSURams.com, and selecting “Video Stream” from the volleyball “Schedule/Results” page.

The regional finals, national semifinals and the championship match will be televised nationally.  The regional finals will air on ESPNU, while the national semifinals and championship match will air live on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com. 

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.  

Gametracker available
Live statistics for all of Colorado State’s postseason matches will be available by clicking the “GameTracker” logo on the volleyball “Schedule/Results” page on CSURams.com. 

A quick look at the Rams
Colorado State returned 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 2009 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 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 North 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 team won 12 straight matches between Sept. 11 and Oct. 22.  During the Rams’ winning streak, the team recorded four consecutive sweeps, over UNLV (Sept. 18), New Mexico (Sept. 24), TCU (Sept. 26), and Wyoming (Oct. 2), to open MWC play.  The Rams lost their first set of the conference season at San Diego State (Oct. 8), picking up a 3-1 victory over the Aztecs, and followed that with three straight sweeps at Air Force (Oct. 10), vs. BYU (Oct. 15) and Utah (Oct. 17) to get through the first half of MWC action with a perfect 8-0 record. 

The Rams opened the second half of the MWC season Oct. 22 at TCU.  The Horned Frogs handed CSU its first conference loss, a 3-0 setback, but CSU responded with a thrilling 3-2 victory at New Mexico (Oct. 25), to maintain the team’s lead over the Horned Frogs in the standings.  Colorado State completed a season sweep of rival Wyoming with a three-set victory on Oct. 30, and then notched two more straight-set victories at home vs. Air Force (Nov. 5) and San Diego State (Nov. 7).

CSU clinched the Mountain West Conference championship, and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, with a pair of road victories over Utah (Nov.  12) and BYU (Nov. 14).  The Rams closed out the MWC season defeating the UNLV Rebels in five sets at Moby Arena on Nov. 21.

Colorado State finished the regular season with an overall record of 23-5, after suffering a four-set loss vs. New Mexico State at Moby Arena in the Rams’ season finale.  The loss snapped a 13-match home-court winning streak for the Rams that dated back to the first weekend of the season.   

20 wins and your in
Colorado State closed the 2009 season with an overall record of 23-5, becoming the 21st team in CSU history, and the 15th consecutive Rams squad, to reach the 20-win plateau.  In each of CSU’s previous 20-win campaigns the Rams have also qualified for NCAA postseason play. 

Against the elite
Colorado State played eight matches in 2009 against opponents who qualified for the NCAA tournament when the bracket was announced on Nov. 29.  The Rams were impressive in those matches, posting an overall record of 6-2.  In non-conference action, the Rams defeated Ohio State (Big Ten at-large selection) and Tennessee (SEC at-large selection), but lost at Duke (ACC at-large selection).  Colorado State faced MWC foes TCU and New Mexico twice each in 2009, splitting with the Horned Frogs and sweeping the Lobos.  The following is a complete listing of CSU’s 2009 matches vs. programs who made the NCAA tournament field.

Date Opponent Site Outcome
Sept. 4 Ohio State Fort Collins, Colo. W, 3-2
Sept. 9 Duke Durham, N.C. L, 1-3
Sept. 12 Tennessee Chapel Hill, N.C. W, 3-0
Sept. 24 New Mexico Fort Collins, Colo. W, 3-0
Sept. 26 TCU Fort Collins, Colo. W, 3-0
Oct. 22 TCU Fort Worth, Texas L, 0-3
Oct. 24 New Mexico Albuquerque, N.M. W, 3-2

Rams in the NCAA tournament
The 2009 season marks Colorado State’s 21st overall appearance in the NCAA volleyball tournament.  The Rams are 18-20 all-time in NCAA tournament matches.  The Rams program has made the tournament field in 15 consecutive seasons, and enter the 2009 tournament with at 14-14 record during that stretch.  In 12 previous appearances under Head Coach Tom Hilbert, the Rams are 13-12. 

Rams advancing in the bracket
The Rams enter their first round matchup with Middle Tennessee State looking to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season.  The Rams have advanced to Round 2 14 times in 20 previous NCAA tournaments, including nine times in 12 appearances under Head Coach Tom Hilbert

NCAA tourney record by round
Colorado State has made a habit of advancing out past the first round of the NCAA tournament, posting an all-time record of 14-6 in opening-round matches.  The Rams, however are just 4-10 in second-round matchups.  No Colorado State team has advanced past the third round of the NCAA tournament, where CSU’s season has ended four times under Head Coach Tom Hilbert between 1999 and 2003.

Rams at home in the NCAA’s
Colorado State volleyball has hosted 13 NCAA tournament matches at Moby Arena since 1983, the Rams’ first appearance in the postseason.  Overall, the Rams are 11-2 in the postseason in front of the Moby faithful.  The Rams won 10 straight home matches in the NCAA tournament between 1984 and 2001. 

Mountain West Champions
The Rams posted a record of 15-1 in the Mountain West Conference in 2009, winning the program’s 14th overall conference championship.  In the 11-year history of the Mountain West Conference, the Rams have now won seven regular-season championships, to go along with four tournament championships, between 1999 and 2007, when the MWC tournament was discontinued.  Additionally, the Rams have won conference championships as members of the Western Athletic Conference (Mountain Division, 1998) and High Country Athletic Conference (1984 and ‘85). 

All-MWC selections
Mountain West all-conference volleyball awards, as selected by the league’s nine head coaches, were announced Nov. 24, with several Rams earning recognition, including junior OH Danielle Minch, who was named MWC Player of the Year, and Head Coach Tom Hilbert, who earned Coach of the Year honors for the seventh time in his career at CSU. 

Minch, a native of Sterling, Colo., earned her first player of the year honor after leading Colorado State to its seventh regular-season Mountain West Conference championship. Minch finished the regular season leading the league in kills per set in conference matches (3.80). She also ranked second in the MWC in kills (3.77) and points per set (4.16) in overall matches, and finished conference play ranking third in points per set (4.16). Minch has tallied double-digit kills in 19 matches this season and was honored as the MWC Player of the Week on Nov. 16.

Hilbert was named MWC Coach of the Year for the seventh time in his career. He led the 23rd-ranked Rams to their 11th overall Mountain West Conference title (seven regular-season, four tournament) with a 15-1 conference record. Hilbert also guided Colorado State to its 11th 20-win season as a member of the MWC.  This season, Hilbert also reached a significant coaching milestone, eclipsing 500 career victories in the Rams’ Nov. 6 victory over Air Force, becoming one of only 29 active head coaches to reach that mark.  

Senior middle blocker Tessa Nelson, who was selected as the preseason Co-Player of the Year, highlights the rest of the Rams’ all-conference selections, which include first-time nods from redshirt freshman Megan Plourde and sophomore setter Evan Sanders.  Nelson is one of five repeat honorees on the team. 

Senior libero Katelin Batten, the MWC active leader in career digs, earned her first nod as the conference’s Libero of the Year.

Postseason awards candidates
Several Rams players are candidates for both AVCA all-region and All-America awards this season, including seniors L Katelin Batten and MB Tessa Nelson, junior OH Danielle Minch, sophomore S Evan Sanders, and redshirt freshman MB Megan Plourde.  All-region selections will be announced by the AVCA on Wednesday, Dec. 9.  All-America selections will be announced Dec. 16. 

Rams in the RPI
The NCAA has released RPI ratings for each of the 330 teams competing at the NCAA Division I level.  The ratings, based on results through matches played Nov. 22, have the Rams ranked No. 18, the highest ranking among Mountain West Conference teams.  New Mexico (41), TCU (43), and Utah (75) rank behind the Rams, followed by BYU (94), San Diego State (102), UNLV (157), Wyoming (215) and Air Force (246). 

Milestone wins
The 2009 season saw the Colorado State volleyball team reach a milestone victory, when the Rams defeated MWC-rival San Diego State on Nov. 7.  The win marked the 700th in the history of the program.  The Rams closed the regular season with an all-time record of 703-363-4, dating back to 1976.  

All-tournament honors
Several Rams earned recognition early in the season, at the Asics/Coors Classic and the Hilton Classic, which CSU hosted at Moby Arena, and the Carolina Classic hosted by the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  Below is a list of the Rams players to earn all-tournament recognition in 2009:

Asics/Coors Classic (Aug. 28-30; Fort Collins, Colo.)
Jacque Davisson

Hilton Classic (Sept. 3-5; Fort Collins, Colo.)
Jacque Davisson - MVP
Danielle Minch
Tessa Nelson

Carolina Classic (Sept. 11-12; Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Danielle Minch - MVP
Jacque Davisson
Katelin Batten

On a hot streak
After opening the season 0-2, the Colorado State volleyball team won 16 of 17 matches, including 12 straight between Sept. 11, a 3-0 win over Marshall at the Carolina Classic on Chapel Hill, N.C., and Oct. 22, a 3-0 loss at TCU.  The Rams’ winning streak was the team’s longest since last season, when CSU rattled off 13 straight between Sept. 6 and Oct. 12.  It also marks the third time in the last four seasons that CSU had won at least 10 consecutive matches in a season.  Since Tom Hilbert’s arrival in Fort Collins in 1997, the Rams have posted winning streaks of at least 10 matches in 10 seasons.  The Rams’ longest winning streak under Hilbert was a 23-match stretch between Sept. 20 and Dec. 6, 2003.  The streak was snapped in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament by No. 3-ranked Florida in Gainsville, Fla.  

# Year Start Opponent End Opponent
23 2003 Sept. 20 vs. UW-Milwaukee (W, 3-1) Dec. 12 at #3 Florida (L, 0-3)
20 2001 Aug. 31 Arkansas (W, 3-0) Nov. 3 at #15 Utah (L, 2-3)
19 2000 Sept. 5 at Colorado (W, 3-1) Oct. 26 at #16 BYU (L, 0-3)
17 1999 Sept. 1 #19 Colorado (W, 3-0) Oct. 16 at UNLV (L, 1-3)
13 2008 Sept. 6 at Oregon (W, 3-0) Oct. 17 at UNLV (L, 1-3)
13 2004 Aug. 29 Georgia Tech (W, 3-1)  Oct. 15 #18 Utah (L, 1-3)
13 1998 Sept. 18 Maryland (W, 3-1) Oct. 29 at Rice (L, 1-3)
12 2009 Sept. 11 vs. Marshall (W, 3-0) Oct. 22 at TCU (L, 0-3)
12 2006 Sept. 22 New Mexico (W, 3-0) Nov. 10 at UNLV (L, 2-3)
11 1997 Oct. 4 at Utah (W, 3-1) Nov. 13 at Wyoming (L, 0-3)

Rams at home vs. ranked opponents
Should the Rams advance to the second round, they could potentially face sixth-seeded, and No. 6-ranked Washington with spot in the Sweet 16 on the line.  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).

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 closed the 2009 season with a record of 140-24 (.854) all-time in Mountain West Conference matches, including an impressive 76-6 (.927) mark at Moby Arena, and a 64-18 (.780) record on the road in league action  The team has averaged nearly 13 conference victories per season, and has amassed 14 more victories than the next closest program, Utah.

Hilbert reaches another milestone
Just more than one year after becoming the winningest coach in Colorado State history, Tom Hilbert added yet another milestone victory to his coaching résumé on Nov. 5.  The Rams’ head coach, now in his 21st season overall and 13th at CSU, won his 500th career match by leading Colorado State to victory over the Air Force Falcons at Moby Arena. 

With the victory Hilbert, who entered this season ranked 11th nationally among active NCAA Division I head coaches with a winning percentage of .783, became the 29th active coach with 500 victories, and one of only two active head coaches (Barry Goldberg, American) on that list with less than 22 years of experience. 

Last season, Hilbert became the winningest coach in CSU annals when he surpassed Rich Feller with his 300th victory at Colorado State. Through the end of the 2009 regular season, Hilbert has 329 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 returned to the poll at No. 25 on Oct. 19, and after receiving votes for three weeks, the Rams were ranked 25th in the poll released Nov. 16.  The latest poll, released by the AVCA at the end of the regular season, has CSU ranked No. 25 nationally.  

Attendance leaders
Colorado State volleyball annually ranks among the national leaders in attendance and the 2009 season is no exception.  The Rams have averaged 1,743 fans through their 16 home matches this season, including a season-best 3,876 fans at the season opener vs. Pepperdine on Aug. 28.  The Rams currently rank 22nd on the list, and are the top team in the Mountain West Conference in terms of average attendance.  New Mexico, ranks 23rd averaging 1,677 fans in 14 home matches.   

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 147-60 (.707) away from Moby Arena under Hilbert’s guidance. 

As easy as 1-2-3
Having finished 18 of its 28 matches - and 15 of the team’s 23 victories on the season - in just three sets, the Colorado State volleyball team made quick work of its opponents in 2009.  The 18 three-set decisions equate to 64 percent of the Rams’ schedule.  Colorado State dropped just 11 total sets against MWC foes this season, recording 11 sweeps in league action.  Overall, the Rams were 15-3 in three-set matches during the 2009 season.    

Rams in the rankings
Colorado State ranks nationally in a number of different categories, including a national ranking of No. 19 (out of 329 programs ranked) in winning percentage ( .821). The Rams also rank 16h in blocks per set (2.70), and are 56th in hitting percentage (.238), 62nd in kills per set (13.47), 70th in assists per set (12.34), 150th in digs per set (14.72), and 300th in aces per set (0.88) though the end of the regular season. 

Individually, junior outside hitter Danielle Minch, and redshirt freshman middle blocker Megan Plourde each rank in two categories.  Minch is 78th in kills per set (3.79) and 90th in points per set (4.18).  Plourde ranks 27th in hitting percentage (.362) and 120th in blocks per set (1.05).  Senior middle blocker is 35th nationally in blocks per set (1.26).  Sophomore setter Evan Sanders ranks 49th with 10.74 assists per set, and senior libero Katelin Batten is 113th, averaging 4.28 digs per set.

For a complete list of the Rams’ team and national statistical rankings, as well as their rankings in the Mountain West Conference see Page 4. 

Minch earns conference POW nod
Colorado State outside hitter Danielle Minch was named Mountain West Conference Volleyball Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Nov. 16.

Minch, a 6-2 junior from Sterling, Colo., helped Colorado State clinch its sixth outright MWC regular-season title with wins at Utah (3-1) and BYU (3-2). Against Utah, Minch tied her career high with 20 kills to go along with four digs and three total blocks. Against BYU, she set a career mark in kills with 21. Minch knocked down seven of her 21 kills in the Rams’ second-set victory, while also tallying three digs, one block and one service ace for the match.

On the week, Minch averaged 4.56 kills, 0.78 digs and 4.89 points per set, while hitting .280.



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