For the 22nd consecutive year, the Colorado State volleyball team is going dancing.
The Rams earned an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament on Sunday night during the annual Selection Show and will play Kentucky in first round action in Seattle on Friday. That match will begin at 6 p.m. MT.
CSU is in the same region as No. seed 8 Washington, who will be the host the and take on Texas A&M Corpus Cristi in the first round. The winner of that match will play the winner of Kentucky-CSU in the second round.
The Rams were on the fringe of the tournament field after having their streak of seven consecutive conference titles snapped after Boise State won the regular season league title, which secured an automatic berth in the 64-team field.
“It was a great jubilance,” head coach Tom Hilbert said about his team’s reaction when CSU’s name was called. “The team as very excited. I’m very happy for them, especially for Cassidy (Denny) because she deserves it.”
CSU (21-8) had an RPI rating of 48 entering the final week of play, and the MW as a conference was rated 7th overall in RPI. The conference made the jump from 14th in RPI from a season ago, a factor that Hilbert said could play a large role after CSU’s thrilling five-set win over Wyoming last Tuesday.
And it sure did.
For the first time since 2012, the MW got more than one team into the tournament. In fact, they got three. Conference champion Boise State joins CSU in the tournament field, as does UNLV, who earned the conference’s second at-large bid.
Kentucky went 22-7 on the season while notching a third place finish in the SEC. The only common opponent between CSU and Kentucky is Wyoming. The Wildcats swept the Cowgirls on Aug. 26.
Being an SEC foe, the Wildcats might seem unfamiliar. But, Hilbert is actually quite knowledgeable about them. And the opponent doesn’t matter so much, instead Hilbert and the Rams are just excited about getting to take the court at least one more time this season.
“I do know about them,” he said. “I watched them on TV the other day. I know the type of team they are. They are a physical blocking and attacking team, they’ll be a handful for us. But you know, I don’t care, I just want to go play a good team and see how we fare.”
Collegian Sports Reporter Michael Roley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @michael_roley