2014 CSU volleyball squad reminiscent of 2009 team

Haleigh Hamblin

Colorado State middle blocker Alexandra Poletto goes for a kill during last weekend's match against Colorado.
Colorado State middle blocker Alexandra Poletto goes for a kill during last weekend’s match against Colorado.

Party like it’s 2009.

If you have been watching the Colorado State volleyball team for the last five years, you might have noticed a couple similarities between this year’s team and the 2009 Rams that went along a similar postseason path.

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It was exactly five years ago last weekend that Fort Collins hosted the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament. History continues to repeat itself once more with No.9 CSU advancing to its 10th Sweet 16, its sixth under head coach Tom Hilbert. Coincidentally, this weekend will be the first time CSU has advanced to the Round of 16 since 2009.

“That was my freshman year, this exact situation,” former CSU standout Dana Cranston said. “We hosted the first two rounds and then the third would be in Minneapolis which is how they are set up too. It is super cool but it also comes with a little bit more pressure.”

As many Fort Collins natives can remember, CSU went on to the Minneapolis Regional just like this season.  CSU will also play on the same court it did in 2009, the University of Minnesota’s Sports Pavilion against No.2 Texas Friday at 3p.m.MT.

“If I know Texas’ history, Texas probably doesn’t go that fast but every single player is a really, really athletic high player,” Hilbert said. “Every team has some vulnerabilities, we got to try to figure out what they are.”

With Texas being the highest-ranked team the Rams have faced all season, CSU could have a rude awakening as the last ranked team it faced was No.19 Colorado last week. The Rams defeated the Buffs after leading 2-0 only to drop the following two sets and force a winner-take-all set five.

CSU, who was seeded 15th at the start of the postseason, overcome a two-year losing streak in the first round, with high hopes of being the first team to punch a ticket to the Final Four.

Back in 2009, CSU was knocked out by host Minnesota after going down 0-2 heading into the break but coming out to take set three. The Rams went out to an early 12-10 lead in set four but could not hold on, suffering their fifth loss of the season away from Moby Arena.

The Rams will host a send-off pep rally at 2:30 Wednesday as the team departs from Moby Arena for Denver International Airport. Following practice, the team will leave from the south concourse around 2:45, fans are encouraged to line up on the southwest ramp leading up to the arena.

“This is such a great time of the year to go out and showcase what you have worked on all year, because you are nervous and you are excited I think fear can creep in pretty easily,” Cranston said. “I think it is just leaving all that stuff in the stands and being smart with the rest of it. Let the environment and the fans fuel you.”

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

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