After a long season of nail bitting, record breaking and overall success for Rams, a heading has been determined for the postseason. Falling one spot short of hosting on its home court, CSU will pack its bags for a quick two day turn over.
On Sunday night the first round of the NCAA Tournament was announced where fans, players and coaches all watched at local Fuzzy’s Tacos in Fort Collins.
“I am very happy,” head coach Tom Hilbert, said. “I am happy to be in the NCAA tournament again, I really am. We are playing good teams and we are playing in the NCAA tournament, you have to be happy about that.”
Placed into the Los Angeles, Calif. regional bracket, Colorado State will go on the road for the first round of play in a two-game series against California State Northridge and either the University of Southern California or New Hampshire.
“What I think is that we are kind of an unknown commodity, even to ourselves,” Hilbert said. “We have not played a team with the caliber of USC, but that does not mean we won’t be successful against them. I’m not afraid to do it.”
The first match is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday against Cal State Northridge. CSU does not know much about Cal State Northridge (23-6), aside from the fact that it is coming off its first-ever conference championship.
“I have no idea about (Cal State Northridge),” setter Deedra Foss said. “Which is kind of good because they know nothing about us, and we know nothing about them; so we are both going in blind-sided.”
To be determined by a win or loss on Thursday, CSU will prepare for either No. 6 USC or New Hampshire on Friday.
“(Cal State Northridge) has some good wins. They beat Hawaii this year and have beaten a lot of good teams. I know they have a setter that is outstanding,” Hilbert said. “They are probably very similar to us.”
Of the top-64 teams in the nation, the Rams placed in the lower half of the Los Angeles regional bracket along with No. 11 Hawaii, Idaho State, Arizona State, BYU, Cal State Northridge, No. 6 USC and New Hampshire.
“We’re efficient, we play well on the road and I don’t think that’s an overly intimidating place to play,” Hilbert said. “I think it’s a good pod for us. I have no problem (possibly playing USC) at all. USC is a good team, but we’re a good team.”
Among the top-ranked seeds are No.1 Texas, No.2 Penn State, No.3 Washington and No.4 Missouri, all except Washington are scattered outside of the Los Angeles bracket. The Huskies will face Alabama State, LSU, Michigan, Creighton, Arkansas, Whichita State and No. 14 Kansas before it has the possibility of facing CSU.
Before CSU begins its travels south, the Rams will have two pivotal days of practice. They are expected to work on blocking and defense because the upcoming opponents will be more physical and stronger than teams in their conference.
The 2013 season marked CSU’s fifth-consecutive Mountain West crown and its 19th-consecutive NCAA tournament No other MW team advanced to the tournament, as the Rams have faced only one ranked team this season.
“We have been a really good team on the road, so I am hoping we can keep that up there,” Foss said. “I think we are all pretty excited and probably pretty nervous too; it is definitely different.”
Volleyball beat reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org