Volleyball to face South Carolina in 1st round of NCAA tournament

Ryan Loberger

To be the best, you must beat the best, and the Colorado State volleyball team has shown all season why they’re at the pinnacle of their sport within the state of Colorado. 

Saturday’s matchup was meant to be an RPI boost for the Rams as they traveled to Denver to take on the Denver Pioneers. Both CSU and DU qualified for the NCAA tournament by winning their respective conferences. The Rams won the Mountain West while DU claimed their fifth Summit League title. Saturday afternoon, the Rams won the match in a five-set thriller.

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You can hear from head coach Tom Hilbert as he caught up with KCSU following the Rams victory.

 

Tom Hilbert, Colorado State’s women’s volleyball coach discusses the games and venues for the CSU volleyball team at the NCAA tournament at The Mayor of Old Town. (Pratyoosh Kashyap | The Collegian)

Sunday night, the committee announced the locations for the tournament, as well as the top 16 seeds, and CSU was not one of them. 

“It would have been awesome to host, and I think we did everything we could have done to do it,” senior setter Katie Oleksak said. “I think it was after we played Utah State, we dropped to 25 (in RPI) or something. I said in the gym, ‘Let’s expect to play on the road,’ and that’s how we’ve been practicing and playing. I don’t think it’s the end of the world that we’re not hosting. It would have been amazing, but it is what it is.”

Sitting at No.11 in the AVCA coaches poll and riding a 28-game win streak, the Rams will head to Seattle, Washington, for a matchup with the South Carolina Gamecocks (19-11) on Friday, Dec. 6. 

“I think they gave us a decent pod that’s not off the charts,” coach Tom Hilbert said. “I wouldn’t want to play Stanford, Texas and Baylor and those guys. It’s our experience and our maturity. I just want to focus on South Carolina first. It’s interesting. They are really a physical team. They have a middle who is more physical than (Kirstie) Hillyer; she’s like a 10-foot-10 touch. Now I have to challenge Hillyer.”

The winner of the Rams and South Carolina game will take on the winner of No. 8 Washington (24-6) and Winthrop (24-4)

Ryan Loberger can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Lobergerryan