August 22, 2012
The latest version of CSU's most consistently successful sports program will be on display at 7 p.m. Friday when the Rams host Virginia in the first match of the Rams Volleyball Rocky Mountain Invitational.
CSU, which has qualified for the NCAA Tournament the past 17 years, enters the season ranked No. 25 in the nation. The Rams return four starters and several other experienced players from last year’s 24-6 team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Rams, the preseason picks to win a fourth consecutive Mountain West title, are led by preseason player of the year Dana Cranston, a senior outside hitter. Cranston was joined by fellow seniors Megan Plourde (middle blocker), Brieon Paige (middle blocker) and Izzy Gaulia (libero), along with sophomore setter Deidra Foss, on the preseason all-MWC team.
Plourde earned All-American honors last year after leading the nation in blocks, while Paige was selected to play this summer in USA Volleyball’s National A2 Program.
Tom Hilbert, entering his 16th season as CSU’s coach, also has several highly touted freshmen to choose from on what could be one of his most talented teams.
Virginia is coming off a 10-20 season in 2011 but returns 10 letter winners.
The two-day, four-team invitational also includes Denver and Rhode Island. CSU hosts DU at 1 p.m. Saturday before playing Rhode Island at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. DU, under the direction of former CSU assistant Jesse Mahoney, was one of just six teams to beat the Rams last year and finished 13-15. Rhode Island was 15-15 last year.
The Rams Volleyball Rocky Mountain Invitational is one of two home tournaments on CSU’s schedule. Also included is a Sept. 15 home match against defending national champion and top-ranked UCLA.
Tickets are available at the gate, online or by calling 491-7267. Students are admitted free with their Ram Card.