CSU volleyball to play Purdue in Tallahassee for first round of NCAA tournament

The NCAA Tournament will send the CSU volleyball team east for the first time since 2008.

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The Rams will play Purdue in Tallahassee, Fla. in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 30 at 2:30 p.m.

ACC champion Florida State will play Hofstra in the site’s other match, and represents the likely second round opponent for CSU should the Rams advance.

“It’s a really fun cluster of teams because they’re good, but not ridiculous,” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said.

Purdue finished the season 21-10 overall, and placed fifth in the Big 10 conference.

Senior outside hitter, and Colorado native, Ariel Turner leads the Boilermakers with 4.43 kills per set, which led the Big 10.

Turner was a first team All-American and Big 10 Player of the Year in 2011.

“She gets a ton of attempts. Being able to block her is very important,” Hilbert said. “They have some other dynamic athletes, and they play in a great conference.”

At least one other Boilermaker will be familiar to CSU, as senior Breion Paige played with Purdue setter Rachel Davis over the summer during the USA Volleyball A2 program.

“She’s good at locating the ball, she knows where the hitters are and how to get it out to their position,” Paige said. “Working with her and seeing her tendencies helps a lot, and I feel like I can tell some of the other girls and keep them posted.”

CSU knows full well what Purdue is capable of in the NCAA Tournament. The Rams hosted the Boilermakers in 2004, and were heavily favored, but lost 3-2 in the opening round.

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“When you play in the Big 10 you’re used to battles night in and night out,” Hilbert said. “They’re going to be very ready for the NCAAs.”

The Rams enter the tournament in as good of shape as they can on an eight game winning streak that included the team’s fourth consecutive Mountain West championship.

CSU clinched the title Friday night in Moby Arena defeating New Mexico 3-1, avenging an earlier loss in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Rams did not fare well away from home early in the season, dropping all three games in their only neutral site tournament in Wichita, Kan. in early September, but the team learned from that experience, and feels good about its chances in Tallahassee.

“In past years we’ve had room to lag and let games go, but this year it forced us into getting better because we had to in order to do what we wanted,” senior outside hitter Dana Cranston said. “I think it put us in the best spot possible for the rest of the season.”