Tom Hilbert earned his 500th victory as head coach of CSU volleyball Thursday night in a 3-0 sweep of Nevada.
Hilbert is currently in his 20th year coaching at CSU and now holds a career record of 500-118 at CSU. He has helped lead the Rams to 19 consecutive NCAA tournaments.
In his journey to 500, Hilbert has taken each game as it comes.
“I have 500 wins because I focus on them one win at a time,” Hilbert said. “This is the mentality the Ram’s had as they beat Nevada tonight.”
It was electric in Moby area as the Rams started the night with an energy that continued to build. The Rams went on a 9-2 run to start the match and there was no looking back. Pushing the attack, the Rams added up 15 kills, with only 2 errors to finish the first set 25-17.
Nevada responded to the energy the Rams brought in the first set, and brought a stronger offensive presence in to the second set. It was the defensive energy the Rams put forth that allowed them to stay in control. The Rams made an intimidating presence at the net, earning four blocks in the second set with Katie Oleksak assisting on 3 of them. Their presence at the net also forced seven attacking errors by Nevada.
The Rams took off to a quick start in the third set, taking an eight point lead, 12-4. Nevada was able to go on a short run to slightly tighten the game at 12-17, but the Rams offence was too much for Nevada to handle.
In the third set, Alexandra Poletto and Sanja Cizmic both tallying six kills a piece with Poletto’s hitting percentage .857, and Cizmic’s at a perfect 1.000. Poletto had a hitting percentage of .722 on the night, the third thime she has hit above .700 this year. This powerful offensive combination allows the Rams to cruise through the end of the match.
With Cizmic serving the match point, the night’s energy reached a peak as the entire arena stood to their feet, waving white signs reading, “500”. Winning the final point and securing the win, Moby arena erupted with cheers of admiration for Hilbert. After accepting congratulations from the crowd, Hilbert was quickly circled by his players, bowing to his accomplishment.
“It was very touching,” Hilbert said. “I am proud of what my career has been like here … This is one of the best places to coach in the country.”
The players on the team realize the big accomplishment Hilbert reached.
“You know the legacy tom has coming here. A lot of people know his name,” Poletto said. “Being able to keep that legacy up for him, it’s an awesome thing in itself.”
While Hilbert has an impressive record as a coach, he would not be in his position without those who play for him.
“I have won 500 matches here and I haven’t served a ball yet,” Hilbert said. “I haven’t hit one, I haven’t passed on; it’s all done by players. I should be bowing to them.”
The Rams will be looking to earn Hilbert his 501st win as they take on San Diego State at Moby arena on Saturday, Oct.15 at 1 p.m.
Collegian sports reporter Jack Starkebaum can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org