Coming off its eighth consecutive Mountain West Conference title, the Colorado State University volleyball team was looking pretty darn good. The women also logged their 16th-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and sit at No. 16 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association's end-of-season ranking (Coloradoan ). The team went 26-5 last fall, but its winning streak could be at risk in the coming season.
Coach Tom Hilbert was forced to make roster changes after several key players either graduated or transferred, requiring him to plug in new starters and even a couple freshmen. His revamped lineup will meet its first major challenge tonight as CSU plays an exhibition game at home against Tianjin Bridgestone, a professional Chinese team that's won five consecutive championships in China's provincial league. (For some perspective, China's national team has claimed two Olympic gold medals, although the last was in 2004.)
The volleyballers aren't the only CSU students who'll have their mettle tested this week. Football coach Steve Fairchild is hosting the Rams Superstars Competition on Friday, a chance for students to prove they can outrun three of the Rams' fastest players (CSURams.com ). If there are winners, they will become honorary members of the team for a week and stand with the Rams on their sideline during September's Rocky Mountain Showdown against the University of Colorado at Invesco Field.