COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Mountain West released the 2011 volleyball coaches poll this morning and Boise State University's team was picked to place sixth in its first season as a member of the league. The Broncos return five starters and nine letterwinners from last year's squad that went 21-12 overall and 8-8 in Western Athletic Conference play to finish third in the final standings.
The season starts Friday, Aug. 26, when Boise State faces the University of Pacific and Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. They open the season on the road for the first five weeks which concludes with the first Mountain West matches in program history at the University of Wyoming on Sept. 22 and at Colorado State on Sept. 24. The first home match is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 26, when they host Weber State followed by the first home conference contest on Thursday, Sept. 29, against TCU. All home matches are held in Bronco Gym.
A voting panel comprised of the eight Mountain West head volleyball coaches chose defending league champion Colorado State as the favorite to win the 2011 MW regular season title. The Rams collected five first-place votes and 60 total points. New Mexico, the 2010 runner-up, was selected to finish second with 56 points and claimed the three remaining first-place votes. San Diego State received 51 points for third place in the poll, while TCU earned 41 points for fourth place. Wyoming (27 points) and newcomer Boise State (25 points) claimed fifth and sixth place, respectively, followed by UNLV (seventh, 20 points) and Air Force (eighth, 8 points).
Colorado State's Megan Plourde highlights the preseason All-Mountain West team as she was tabbed the 2011 Preseason Player of the Year. Five institutions were represented on the 2011 preseason All-MW squad, which also was chosen by the head coaches.
The 2011 season will see five All-Mountain West players returning, including Plourde and 2009 All-MW setter Megan Munce (TCU). Plourde, a junior middle blocker for the Rams, is the league's top returning player in overall attack percentage (.364) and blocks per set (1.62). In blocks per set, Plourde ranked second in the nation at the end of the 2010 campaign. Munce, a preseason All-MW pick in 2010, missed the majority of last year with a knee injury. In 2009 as a sophomore for the Horned Frogs, she led the Conference in service aces per set (0.42) and was fourth in assists per set (9.94).
San Diego State's Andrea Hannasch (Jr., MB), Wyoming's Jodi Purdy (Jr., OH) and New Mexico's Allison Buck (Sr., L) also are returning All-Mountain West honorees from 2010. Hannasch was sixth in the league, 38th in the nation, in blocks per set (1.23) last season, while Purdy returns as the top kill leader after ranking seventh in the league in kills per set (3.21) a year ago. Buck, the only senior among the returning All-MW players, was tops in digs per set (4.22) in conference-only action and third in overall play (4.00) in 2010. New Mexico's Ashley Rhoades (Sr., MB) and TCU's Kristen Hester (Sr., MB) round out the list of preseason All-MW team members. Rhoades was one of the top blockers in the league last season with 1.08 per set overall (sixth) and 1.13 in conference-only play. Hester is one of the top returning hitters in the league, finishing 2010 with a .329 percentage (fourth).
The 2011 season opens Friday, Aug. 26, with all eight league teams in action. Conference play begins on Thursday, Sept. 22, with Colorado State hosting Air Force and Wyoming entertaining Boise State. All eight teams will meet at the Johnson Center in Albuquerque, N.M., on Nov. 18-20 for the 2011 Mountain West Championship Tournament.
2011 PRESEASON ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST TEAM
Player Cl. Pos. Team
Megan Plourde Jr. MB Colorado State
Ashley Rhoades Sr. MB New Mexico
Andrea Hannasch Jr. MB San Diego State
Kristen Hester Sr. MB TCU
Jodi Purdy Jr. OH Wyoming
Setter: Megan Munce Jr (RS) S TCU
Libero: Allison Buck Sr. L New Mexico
Preseason Player of the Year: Megan Plourde, Colorado State
2011 PRESEASON VOLLEYBALL COACHES' POLL
Pl. Team (1st place votes) Points
1. Colorado State (5) 60
2. New Mexico (3) 56
3. San Diego State 51
4. TCU 41
5. Wyoming 27
6. Boise State 25
7. UNLV 20
8. Air Force 8