Sickafoose: CSU volleyball is in a league of its own
Michelle Lawrence searched for the right words to say on Saturday night, but it didn’t come very easily.
It’s hard to believe, but after all, the rookie from Walnut Creek, Calif. is merely a freshman and still making her presence felt on one of the most successful Division I volleyball programs in the entire country.
CSU expected to get a fight out of Mountain West rival Boise State over the weekend, but what it yielded was instead a turnout nobody was expecting. A mind-boggling mob of 4,801 Ram fans piled into Moby Arena to watch their team sweep past the Broncos — good enough for the 10th-best attendance in program history.
A bit of a change of pace from playing in high school gyms, eh freshman?
“I truly think it’s a once in a lifetime experience, I thought it was incredible,” Lawrence said. “Moby does get a big crowd the majority of our games, but having 4,000-plus fans there was just really… I don’t know how to put it into words, it was just an incredible feeling.”
The crowd was only proof that more and more people are catching on to the fact that CSU has an athletic program that continues to dominate week in and week out.
So if you haven’t noticed, take notes. Because the Rams are good — like, really good.
At time of print, CSU was ranked No. 13 in the nation and likely to improve after the AVCA Coaches Poll is released on Monday with wins over both Utah State and Boise State last week.
The Rams have now racked up a grand total of 45 set victories in 15 games, while only dropping eight all season. Not even a single non-conference opponent, including Texas A&M and University of Denver, could find a way to derail them from the tracks they have laid in 2013.
Those tracks have brought CSU to a flawless 15-0 record, standing as the only undefeated squad left in the country along with Missouri.
With those numbers ingested, try to wrap your head around the fact that this was supposed to be a “rebuilding year,” as the team lost four of its starters from 2012 to graduation. But CSU knew there’s not always a picnic table when you’re camping, so head coach Tom Hilbert decided to play the hand he was dealt.
And now with the cards on the table, the Rams are collecting.
The regular season is officially more than halfway over and CSU has only seen a fifth-set battle once, on top of sweeping eight of the 15 matches played. The Rams are competing in their own echelon, and it’s bizarre to think that they weren’t predicted to win the conference at the beginning of the season.
It’s gotten to the point where the Rams have started coming up with different ways to win.
“We don’t approach any game the same way, and this team has a great mentality of coming to every game like we’re the underdog and that we have to win it. We don’t assume we’re going to win any game that we play,” middle blocker Samantha Peters said.
It’s proven to be incredibly effective thus far, I guess we’ll have to see how many winning variations Hilbert has in his collection.
Sports Editor Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @QSickafoose.