"We’ve had a super hard pre-season schedule this year by design. Our coach wanted us to play a lot of tough teams at the start of the year and our record kind of shows we had some losses at the end of pre-season and came out with a lower record than we’ve had my other three seasons here."
The Rams played a variety of pre-season tournament games against teams from all across America. The pre-season began with the Rams hosting a three-team tournament, which they swept all the way through, winning each game in three sets. The tournament was followed by losses to Whichita State, Tennessee and BYU, and a victory over Oklahoma and twelfth ranked Pepperdine.
The Rams' final pre-season game tested the girls as a whole, as they welcomed number two seed UCLA to Ram headquarters, unfortunately losing in five sets in what Cranston describes as a hard fought, exciting and close match.
Now playing in her Senior year, Cranston is a veteran on the team.
"It comes with a lot more responsibility for sure," she says. "I’m looked at to lead a lot more than I have been before and to perform at a higher level. But that’s okay; that comes with the position and it’s cool because I get to pass down information that other girls passed down to me when I was in my first year."
She considers herself a leader as one of four seniors on the team, a role she embraces and enjoys and was something she and the three fellow seniors talked about prior to the start of the season.
"Our coach always says your experience here is not about what you get, it’s about what you give, so everything you put into the program is what you’ll get out of it. A lot of people did that for me and made this the best four years they can possibly be, so I want to leave as much of a legacy as I can this year."
The outside hitter is in fact leaving her mark with her school, as this year alone, she has already been named a Mountain West Pre-Season Co-Player of the Year, and was recently nominated as a 2012 Senior Class Award Candidate.
Cranston says that while the nomination is flattering, she wouldn’t have been able to achieve it without the support of her program.
"It’s definitely not just me. I have a whole bunch of support around me here on the team. Our team is very very close; it’s like a family atmosphere here. In school there is so much support staff here and on our athletic/academic staff that help a lot. So I’m in a good place to do well."
When asked what it would mean to win, Cranston provided the most humble of answers.
"I think winning [the award] would bring attention to the school, which I think is the biggest thing, and attention to my teammates and the people that helped me, so I think it would be encouraging to see Colorado State in the spotlight."
Being in her final year of NCAA volleyball, Cranston says she entered the season with a bit more focus and determination. Despite being a gifted athlete, she says she’s never satisfied and is always looking to improve her skills.
"I think if you’re ever satisfied with where you are you’re cutting yourself short, especially now that it’s my senior season. I’m just trying to soak up everything I can at every practice. I’m trying to get as much better as I can every chance I have because I know that’s going to put our team in the best situation to do well."
That strong work ethic is something that Cranston says her teammates will hopefully pick up on.
"I think the biggest change from last year is going from verbally leading to leading by example, so that’s something I’m really trying to work on."
Entering the season, Cranston, who wears the number two on the court, says her and her teammates want to keep their winning tradition alive.
"Our first goal of the season is always to win the conference. We have won the last three years so that is our first major goal for sure and also to make a deep run into the NCAA tournament."
The furthest she's gone was into the Sweet 16, which she accomplished in her freshmen year. In her Sophomore and Junior year she made it to second round, and is hoping to make a deep drive into that tournament. She says that if the team stays focused, that goal is not out of reach.
"We just need to keep working hard and have the mindset every day knowing that we have the potential to be there. If we keep improving throughout the season it’s really not out of reach to make a drive and potentially be in the finals."
Looking ahead, Cranston hopes she can weigh her options overseas in Europe to play professionally, which she will look into following her senior season.
Back at Colorado State, Cranston and her fellow Rams have a huge upcoming game this Friday against their rivals, Wyoming. It’s an important game, as it will be the Rams' homecoming, and considering the fact that Wyoming beat the Rams in Wyoming last year, which was the first loss the Rams suffered to their rivals in the 15 years under head coach Tom Hilbert, they are looking for a little redemption.
The game will commence at 6:45 Fort St. John time, and results can be found on the CSU Rams' official website.