COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A voting panel comprised of the nine Mountain West head women’s volleyball coaches chose defending league champion Colorado State as the favorite to win the 2012 MW regular season title.
The AVCA Preseason No. 25-ranked Rams collected eight first-place votes and 80 total points. San Diego State, the 2011 runner-up, was selected to finish second with 69 points, while Wyoming earned the remaining first-place vote and 66 points for a close third. Fourth through seventh places were separated by nine total points with newcomer Fresno State leading the way with 45 points, UNLV in fifth with 42, New Mexico in sixth with 40 and Boise State in seventh with 36. Newcomer Nevada was picked eighth with 16 points, followed by Air Force with 11.
Colorado State’s Dana Cranston and Wyoming’s Jodi Purdy share the 2012 MW Preseason Player of the Year award. Cranston is one of four Rams on the seven-member 2012 All-MW Preseason Team, as three-time all-MW performer Megan Plourde, Brieon Paige and Izzy Gaulia join Cranston and Purdy on the squad. San Diego State’s Andrea Hannasch and Johnna Fouch round out the list of preseason honorees as selected by the head coaches.
Cranston, a senior middle blocker from Fort St. John, British Columbia, is one of three 2011 all-Mountain West performers returning from head coach Tom Hilbert’s Colorado State squad that finished 24-6 and ranked No. 25 in the nation. Cranston averaged 2.46 kills per set and 2.54 digs per set while hitting .238 last season. Plourde, a senior middle blocker from Somerset, Wisc., led the nation in blocking with a 1.71 average in 2011. She also had 2.38 kills per set while hitting .297. Paige, also a senior middle blocker for CSU, hit .333 with 2.16 kills per set a year ago. The Sacramento, Calif., native also averaged 1.02 blocks per set. Gaulia, a senior libero from Glendale, Ariz., averaged 4.75 digs per set and was named to the MW all-tournament team in 2011.
Purdy ranks among the top 26 on several MW all-time career lists, including kills (26th; 1,157), service aces (19th; 103), digs (22nd; 960), and points (23rd; 1,373). The senior outside hitter from Winterset, Iowa is a two-time all-MW honoree. In 2011, she averaged 3.41 kills, 3.18 digs and 0.75 blocks per set. The Cowgirls finished third in the MW in 2011 under the direction of head coach Carrie Yerty.
Hannasch and Fouch also are returning all-Mountain West performers for head coach Deitre Collins-Parker’s San Diego State Aztecs. A two-time all-MW honoree, Hannasch is a senior middle blocker from New Braunfels, Texas, who averaged 2.94 kills per set while hitting .307 last fall. She also averaged 1.17 blocks per set. Fouch, a junior setter from Redlands, Calif., averaged 11.32 assists per set in 2011 and currently sits 21st on the MW’s all-time career assists list with 2,439.
The 2012 season opens Friday, Aug. 24, with all nine league teams in action. Conference play begins on Thursday, Sept. 20, with Fresno State at Boise State, UNLV at Air Force and New Mexico entertaining Colorado State.
MWC PRESEASON WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL TEAM
Dana Cranston Sr. OH Colorado State
Brieon Paige Sr. MB Colorado State
Megan Plourde Sr. MB Colorado State
Andrea Hannasch Sr. MB San Diego State
Jodi Purdy Sr. OH Wyoming
Setter: Johnna Fouch Jr. S San Diego State
Libero: Izzy Gaulia Sr. L Colorado State
Co-Preseason Players of the Year: Dana Cranston, Colorado State; Jodi Purdy, Wyoming
MWC WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL COACHES’ POLL
Team (1st place votes) Points
1. Colorado State (8) 80
2. San Diego State 69
3. Wyoming (1) 66
4. Fresno State 45
5. UNLV 42
6. New Mexico 40
7. Boise State 36
8. Nevada 16
9. Air Force 11