The CSU women’s volleyball team has a reputation to uphold.
Every year, the Rams are tasked with facing off against the nation’s top-ranked teams, advancing to the NCAA tournament and most importantly, winning the Mountain West championship.
CSU ended the 2012 season with the conference title and a 21-8 record after being knocked out of the NCAA by Purdue. The preseason conference poll has the Rams ranked at No. 2 behind San Diego State University going into the 2013 season.
“They need to think they are the underdog, in my opinion,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “Our team needs to go in thinking they are the underdog, because that’s going to give them the best chance to win.”
The Rams received only two votes to finish first, compared to the Aztecs’ nine. Both held conference records of 13-3 just a year ago. In order to be a competitor for their fifth straight MW title, the Rams will be pressured to take victories away from key conference battles.
“We never really look at the preseason polls very much,” senior Samantha Peters said. “We knew that we weren’t going to be looked to be at the top just because we lost so many seniors. Our mindset is still the same; to win as many games as we can, when we can.”
According to the team, this season’s practices have been as competitive as they come. With no roster set for the season opener on Friday against Baylor, the players have been fighting for those six spots on the floor since practice began two weeks ago.
“If you ask me right now, we are not an NCAA team yet,” Hilbert said. “There are way better teams in the Mountain West than what we are doing right now. But we got good athletes, we can get there.”
CSU is faced with filling the shoes of those players who helped carry the team last season. In order to be successful this season, the Rams must maintain a consistent serving game as well as a even stronger defensive game.
“You know, we are going to be an OK blocking team because we are a frailly physical,” Hilbert said. “But we are not going to be what we did. And maybe will be by mid-season or the end of the season. That again also means we are going to need to dig more balls.”
Although seeded second entering the season, the Rams remain heart set on bringing home yet another MW trophy.
“We always take it game by game, but in the end I want to be the Mountain West Champs,” junior Deedra Foss said. “I want to leave here with five rings on my finger.”
The CSU volleyball team will start off the 2013 season this weekend at Moby arena against Baylor University on Friday at 6 p.m. and Cal Poly on Saturday at 7 p.m.