Rams Volleyball team Advances To Sweet 16

The Rams defeated instate rival Colorado in five games (28-30, 30-17, 30-21,31-33, 16-14) to advance to the Regionals of the NCAA Tournament.

CSU-SID - In an emotional roller-coaster match, the Rams defeated instate rival Colorado in five games (28-30, 30-17, 30-21,31-33, 16-14) to advance to the Regionals of the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season and improve their season record to 29-3. The Buffaloes end their season with a 19-11 record.

Four Colorado State players recorded double-doubles on the evening. Senior outside hitter Courtney Cox tallied a match-high 27 kills and led all players with 19 digs. Senior right side hitter Soraya Santos added 16 kills and 13 digs, while freshman outside hitter Becky Sarauer and junior middle blocker Michelle Knox each had 15 kills. Senior middle blocker Angela Knopf added 14 kills and 12 digs. Knox led the team with six blocks, while senior setter Allison Peckham was one shy of her career high in assists after tallying 78. She also added 12 digs on the evening. The Rams hit .319 in the match and had 15.0 team blocks and eight service aces.

"This was a very emotionally draining match for all of us," said Head Coach Tom Hilbert. "It (the win) was done basically by serving. We couldn't stop their middles all night, but at the end we got some balls going our way. You must be really aggressive to come back like this and we were able to get it done."

Colorado's Monique Gerlach had 23 kills and hit .568 to lead the Buffaloes. Meghan Barkman added 21 kills, while Sonja Russell chipped in 10 kills. Sara Villwock led the team with 18 digs, while Barkman had a team-high four blocks. Colorado hit .220 on the night and had eight team blocks. The Buffaloes added two aces and 69 set assists on the evening.

Colorado scored the first two points of the match before the Rams came back and took an early 9-6 lead. The teams traded points throughout the first game, with no team scoring more than three straight. The Rams were up 27-25, but Colorado would score the next two points to tie the game at 27 all and would rally to score the last three points of game one to win 30-28.

Tied at two all in the second stanza, the Rams would score six straight points to take an 8-2 lead and never look back. The third game was much of the same with the Rams scoring the first eight points and going on two win 30-21.

The Buffaloes would not give up, however, taking an early 4-1 lead in game four and leading 16-11. The Rams would battle back to tie the score at 20 and the points traded sides until the score was tied at 30. The Rams got a kill by Peckham to go up 31-30, but Gerlach followed up with a kill to knot the score at 31. Cox then hit an error for CSU and Russell finished the game with a kill of an Allison Barnes set to win 33-31.

Game five looked to be all CU as the Buffs took a 10-5 lead. Santos and Sarauer both had kills and then Gerlach had an attack error to bring the Rams within two, but Colorado would pull away again and take a 13-9 lead. Barkman hit an error and then Santos had her fourth ace of the game off her powerful jump serve to make the score 13-11. Colorado used its final time-out and Sarauer came out of the break with a kill to bring the score within one. Barkman would hit an error to tie the score but Russell got a kill to give CU a 14-13 advantage and a chance at match point. Cox would get two kills for the Rams to take the 15-14 lead and their own shot at match point. Barkman then hit the ball into the net to advance the Rams to the "Sweet 16."

"Soraya was very gutsy tonight," added Hilbert. "That's how you come from behind in a rally format like this."

Colorado State will face its third Big 12 opponent in the NCAA Tournament in the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nebraska advances after defeating Kansas State in four games earlier this evening. The time and place of the next round has yet to be determined.

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