Colorado State volleyball head coach Tom Hilbert addressed the media Tuesday about his plans for the upcoming season. He introduced a few new members to the team and talked about the possibility of implementing a new rotation.
Talking strategy and using Culbert as a setter
CSU has a void to fill after losing setter Deedra Foss, the 2014 Mountain West Player of the Year. Hilbert is considering a number of fixes, including a change to a 6-2 rotation in which two setters would rotate through the back row.
“I’m still deciding on it, but I’m leaning toward it for a number of reasons,” Hilbert said. “I think that fits the skill sets of our two middles, because they’re both great in front of the setter, and they’re both great in what we call the flood-zone. So that helps us. If we can develop one other right-side attacker beside the two defenders, we’ll be in three-hitter all the time. It will be simple but effective.”
In the 6-2 rotation, senior Adrianna Culbert could play as a setter/hitter. Culbert said she was initially recruited as a setter, and was supposed to redshirt for a year so that she could take on the setter position for two years after Foss graduated.
Culbert’s immediate development as a hitter changed those plans, but she is embracing the possibility of shifting back to that role for her senior year if it benefits the team.
“I’m really excited for it,” Culbert said. “It’s something I haven’t done in the last couple years but I’ve always wanted to have a chance to do both. To get back into that part of my game is really awesome. “
Alex Reid transfers into role of a leader
The Rams gained another player with tournament experience in Long Beach State transfer Alex Reid. The addition of the outside hitter could help make up for the loss of Marlee Reynolds. As a senior, Reid will be expected to step into an immediate leadership role.
“When I came here, I felt like it was really natural,” Reid said. “All the girls respected me and Tom respected me. His first meeting with me, he told me I was a natural born leader, and I just want you to give. That’s all you can do is give to the program, and so far its been going pretty well.”
Reid ranked third in kills and digs on an LBSU team that won the Big West and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2014. Originally from Aurora, Reid was named an AVCA High School All-American as a senior at Grandview High School.
Adding some inspiration
The Rams added another member to their roster back in March. The 10-year-old Sara Robinson joins the team as part of a partnership with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, and is quickly becoming the most popular member of the team.
Robinson was diagnosed with epilepsy shortly after she was born in 2004, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2014. After a year of chemotherapy and a round of radiation, the tumor is now stable, according to Hilbert.
“She’s one of my favorite people,” Reid said. “We always get texts and messages from her parents about everything that we’re doing, but in my mind, she’s doing so much for us. A lot of people can complain about having to workout, having to practice, and this little girl has so much more going on in her life, and she’s so excited every time we see her. You never see her when she’s not smiling, so it really puts everything in perspective.”
Robinson has her own stool in the locker room and her own jersey number (30). Hilbert said that there will be at least one night dedicated to her during the season, most likely starting with the Northern Colorado matchup in Fort Collins on Sept. 8.
“That little girl, she’s amazing,” Culbert said. “She’s an inspiration to all of us. I know that she looks up to us as role models, but all of us look to her as a role model. It makes our problems seem so minute compared to what she goes through, and she always comes in with a smile on her face.”
Collegian Sports Editor Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at email@example.com and on Twitter @emccarthy22.