Adrianna Culbert is having a legendary season

Emmett McCarthy

There’s no such thing as an NCAA Volleyball video game, but if there were, we would say Adrianna Culbert has been putting up video game numbers. 

Culbert was expected to be the best player in the conference, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that she was able earn Mountain West Player of the Year honors. Yet, somehow, the way she went about it all still didn’t seem real. She shattered both the Mountain West and Colorado State record by notching eight (eight!) triple-doubles in the season. In a match with San Jose State, she recorded the first quadruple-double in the NCAA in over five years. 

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CSU's Adrianna Culbert celebrates the Rams' Mountain West title with fellow senior Jaime Colaizzi. (Ryan Arb)
CSU’s Adrianna Culbert celebrates the Rams’ Mountain West title with fellow senior Jaime Colaizzi. (Ryan Arb)

“She’s a real student of the game of volleyball,” Hilbert said. “Really, coaching her has never been about teaching her how to play. Coaching her is about directing her and managing her, and what she’s going to be for the team. It’s like she’s playing professionally.”

Local media members dubbed her “LeBron James” for her statistical impact, a nickname that she seemed uncomfortable with at first, but eventually embraced, even wearing a LeBron jersey to practice on Halloween. She was never crazy about all of the individual attention, but her accolades were just too hard not to mention.

Did she get sick of being asked about her stat-line or individual performances after every match?

“A little,” Culbert admits, “because I don’t really like going on about my accomplishments. At the end of the day whatever the team does is what matters the most.”

It’s not hard to tell when a player genuinely means what they say, or if they are just trying to give the right answer for the media. Culbert seems to genuinely mean it.

Her competitiveness sets her apart. The only stat she pays attention to is the Win-Loss column.

That is why she embraced the opportunity to take on a setter role in Colorado State’s new 6-2 offensive rotation this season after Deedra Foss, one of the best setters in program history, graduated.

“She hasn’t set since high school and comes out like, ‘I’ll be a starting setter, it’s fine’,” teammate Alex Reid said.

And yeah, it was fine. Culbert led the Rams to 26 wins, as well as an undefeated record in conference play (18-0), something that has only been done once before in the history of the Mountain West. Not bad for what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

A CSU player taking home the MW Player of the Year award is not exactly rare. Culbert was the seventh in a row to do so. But the way she went about it should earn her some consideration along with those former program greats such as Dana Cranston (MW Player of the Year in 2012) and Samantha Peters (MW Player of the Year 2013), both of whom overlapped with Culbert earlier in her CSU career.

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“She’s definitely up there right with Dana and with Sam,” said senior libero Jaime Colaizzi, who was also a part of those 2012 and 2013 teams. “She’s done so much for this program ever since our freshman year. I feel really grateful to have played with her for four years.”

Hilbert hasn’t minded having her around.

“I think she’s one of the best all-around players to play here ever,” he said.

Collegian Sports Editor Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com and at @emccarthy22.