CSU volleyball draws rematch against Michigan in first round of NCAA tournament

Austin White

The CSU volleyball team huddles in anticipation for the CSU vs. Fresno State game. (Olive Ancell | Collegian)

A 23rd consecutive NCAA tournament appearance will begin for the No. 23 Colorado State Rams with a rematch against the Michigan Wolverines at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 1. The Rams will travel to Palo Alto, California in the regional hosted by the Stanford Cardinal, the reigning national champions.

“I have confidence because we are CSU volleyball, but Michigan is a great team,” senior Jasmine Hanna said. “They played in the Big Ten this year, we played in the Mountain West…so I know they have gotten better.”

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The Rams (28-3, 17-1 MW) and Wolverines faced early this season when CSU swept them in Moby Arena. Michigan (21-11) made it into the tournament via an at-large bid.

“Both teams will go into this thinking, ‘Oh this is what we saw last time,’” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “You really need to throw that out the window…we just got to go prepare for them like we never played them before.”

The bracket was revealed nationally on ESPNU as the Rams looked on from their watch party held at The Mayor of Old Town. CSU fans filled the tight space to show their support and help send the team off.

Only the top 16 teams in the tournament are seeded, but based off the Rams placement in the Stanford region, they are a de facto eight seed. CSU is the only Mountain West team making it into the field as they earned the conference’s automatic bid by capturing the conference title for the 14th time back on Nov. 4 with a sweep over the Boise State Broncos.

A win against Michigan would most likely result in a matchup with Stanford who is the tournament’s No. 3 seed overall and one of the top four teams. The Cardinal will take on the University of California, Bakersfield in the first round. CSU is 0-11 against the Cardinal all-time.

“We just have to continue to play the way we always do,” freshman Breana Runnels said. “I’m going to play my role just like everyone else is and we just have to work as a unit to win this game.”

Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ajwrules44.