No. 13 CSU to host first top-10 team since 2011

Haleigh Hamblin

Time is running out to purchase tickets, find a white T-shirt and prepare for what could be a historic night in Moby Arena. The No. 13 Colorado State volleyball team will host No. 4 Wisconsin, the 2013 national runner up Saturday at 7 p.m. for its final game of the CSU/UNC Tournament.

The Rams swept their co-tournament host Northern Colorado Wednesday night at the Butler-Hancock Athletic Center in Greeley. CSU improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2005 with the win against the Bears. However, before they get their shot at the fourth-ranked Badgers, the Rams must contend with an underrated Florida A&M team.

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Saturday is the first time since 2011 that a top-10 opponent will travel to Fort Collins. Then-No. 15 CSU overcame a 0-2 deficit to beat No. 5 Nebraska, earning its 16th victory over a top-10 opponent in program history. Saturday’s match will also be a “White Out,” the Rams’ first promotional night of the year.

“You know I think Colorado State is calling it a ‘White Out’ match for them so that place will be probably sold out and its a great environment,” Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield said in last weeks Big Ten/ACC press conference.

Sheffield also commented in the press conference how the team’s defense is not competing to the standards that he holds for the team.

“What do I want to see better, I want to see the work we are going to put in defensively,” Sheffield said. “I would like to see that improve once we get to the weekend.”

With the Badgers struggling defensively in their first weekend of the 2014 season and a quick turnaround before heading west to Colorado, CSU has an opportunity to possibly catch the Badgers on an off night. Unless their defense Wisconsin could have a hard time with Rams middle blockers Kelsey Snider and Acacia Andrews, as well as outside hitters Adrianna Culbert, Marlee Reynolds and Jasmine Hanna.

“We’ve got really good middle attacking on this team, and I think we have good outside hitters,” CSU head coach Tom Hilbert said. “I think they need to find a way to find a better flow. I think we have to go back, once we get some time to practice and work on some tempo things with our outside hitting that frees them up a little bit more.”

Despite the Badgers’ inconsistent back row, CSU will face its toughest test of the young season Saturday night. Wisconsin has tremendous depth on the attack with outside hitter Ellen Chapman averaging 3.83 kills per set while committing just three total erros and middle blocker Dominique Thompson averaging 2.17 kills per set with just two errors.

“It’s nice; obviously you want to sweep a team, but I feel like bumps are where you learn how to grow,” Snider said “It’s not going to be a sweep all the time, so I think we’re eventually going to face that, and that’s going to determine how we do as a team.”

Collegian Sports Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @haleighamblin.