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Sports / Recreation

CSU volleyball to host top Chinese team

April 22, 2011
By Tony Phifer

The CSU volleyball team will play a rare spring exhibition match at 7 p.m. Tuesday, hosting one of the top professional club teams in China.

Junior Megan Plourde, a two-time all-conference selection, will lead the Rams on Tuesday night when they host China's Tianjin Bridgestone.Volleyball fans can enjoy a rare treat Tuesday night when CSU hosts one of the most successful professional club teams in China.

CSU, coming off its 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, faces Tianjin Bridgestone at 7 p.m. at Moby Arena. The match marks the first time coach Tom Hilbert’s Rams have hosted an international team during his 14 seasons at CSU.

“I like having events like this on our campus, and I hope people understand how unusual and exciting it is to get a match like this in Fort Collins,” Hilbert said. “This Chinese team is unbelievably good, even though they are not bringing all of their top players for this match. They won the Chinese provincial championship this year, and their coach (Wang Bauquan) has coached the Chinese national team. It will be a great test for us.”

Lots of new faces

The Rams are coming off a 26-5 season in which they advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Stanford. Hilbert has to replace four starters on that team: Mountain West Conference player of the year Danielle Minch, all-MWC setter Evan Sanders, outside hitter Jacque Davisson and defensive specialist Audrey Hemmings.

“We lost a lot of great players, so this will be a very young team for us,” Hilbert said. “I still think we’re going to be OK, but there are so many unknowns because we lost four starters. We have a lot of developing to do.”

Setter position is key

Hilbert will build his team around junior middle blocker Megan Plourde, a two-time all-MWC pick, junior outside hitter Dana Cranston, sophomore middle blocker Brieon Page and senior outside hitter Katelyn Steffan. Hilbert said the key to next year’s team will be developing a setter. Freshmen Deedra Foss and Katie Rutherford will battle for the starting job, with Foss expected to start against the Chinese.

Hilbert said he hopes to give all of his players a chance to take the court in this unusual springtime match.

Tickets at the door

Tickets, available only at the door, are $5 for adults and $2 for youths age 17 and under. Students with a valid CSU ID will be admitted free of charge.