Recent history will tell you: CSU is a volleyball school

Braidon Nourse, Sports Editor

In my estimation, Colorado State University is a volleyball school. Before I go into why, I want to first acknowledge the success of women’s sports at CSU, particularly women’s basketball and track and field. So many incredible athletes have done their thing on the court, the track and the field.

In just the past few years, we’ve been able to see an Olympian in recent graduate Lauren Gale, conference champions, Mountain West Conference players of the year and a great number of CSU record breakers. 


Onto the case for volleyball being CSU’s overarching sport.

Admittedly, the Rams volleyball team is going through a stint of missing out on NCAA Tournament berths dating back to the 2020 season. Before that, they went to a stunning seven NCAA Tournaments in a row from 2013-2019, not to mention plenty of appearances prior. And their last losing season? 1994.

This was largely due to the genius of former head coach Tom Hilbert, who is widely regarded as one of the best college volleyball coaches ever. Hilbert retired at the end of last season after a crushing five-set defeat to San Diego State University in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

Hilbert won’t be coaching anymore, but his protege Emily Kohan will be. Kohan has been on Hilbert’s staff for seven years, spending the last three as associate head coach before being named head coach in December 2022. If Kohan emulates any type of success that Hilbert had, the program will be in good hands.

In terms of a roster shift from last season to their upcoming season, there’s relatively little change. They’ll take some big hits from losing outside hitter Jacqi Van Liefde and setter Ciera Pritchard, but Malaya Jones and University of Arizona transfer Emery Herman are capable replacements.

Not to mention, more star power will return in Kennedy Stanford, Karina Leber and Annie Sullivan, who were by far the top three Rams in kills last season — the three combined for 874 kills in the 2022 season. So in terms of the roster and coaching staff, the Rams are still in good hands.

One thing the volleyball team had over the women’s basketball team last season was the fact that they sold out Moby Arena for the first time in program history for their first of two matches against the University of Colorado Boulder, where the Rams beat the Buffs in four sets in front of Moby.

From roster turnout to crowd turnout, from team performance to a winning culture, it may be safe to say this: CSU is a volleyball school.

Reach Braidon Nourse at or on Twitter @BraidonNourse.