Cowgirls Picked to Finish 2nd in MW Volleyball
The Wyoming volleyball team was picked to finish second in the 2018 MW Preseason Coaches’ Poll, drawing one first-place vote, which kept Colorado State from being a unanimous pick to win the MW.
|The Coaches Selections|
|1. Colorado State (10) 100|
|2. Wyoming (1) 91|
|T3. Boise State 75|
|T3. San Diego State 75|
|5. New Mexico 59|
|6. San José State 56|
|7. Fresno State 39|
|T8. Air Force 31|
|T8. Utah State 31|
|10. Nevada 25|
|11. UNLV 23|
|*first place votes in parenthesis|
The Brown and Gold finished second in the Mountain West last season—its highest finish as a member of the MW—behind a 12-6 conference record and a 17-14 overall mark. Selected to the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC), the Cowgirls competed in postseason play for the first time since 1994. Head coach Chad Callihan returns nine letterwinners from his 2017 squad. Among those returners are all six starters, including the libero, from a season ago.
The Cowgirls finished with 91 points in the poll, just nine behind the favorite Colorado State and 16 ahead of projected third-place finishers Boise State and San Diego State. Wyoming also received a first-place vote in the poll, standing as the only other team outside of Colorado State to earn a first-place selection.
New Mexico rounds out the poll’s top five with 59 votes, followed by San Jose State (56), Fresno State (39), Air Force (31), Utah State (31), Nevada (25) and UNLV (23). Colorado State junior Katie Oleksak was selected as the MW Preseason Player of the Year.
Wyoming will travel to Greeley, Colo., this Friday for an exhibition showdown at Northern Colorado, but Cowgirl fans can get their first in-person look at the team the following day at the annual Brown and Gold Scrimmage. The scrimmage is set for 6:30 p.m. MT in the UW Arena-Auditorium. It will be free and open to the public.
UW will play 15 matches in Laramie, including nine MW matches. Additionally, UW will host two non-conference tournaments, the Rumble in the Rockies (Aug. 24-25) and UniWyo Invite (Sept. 7-8).
What underscores the team mentality of the Cowgirls is that no Cowgirls are among the seven players selected to the MW preseason team. Colorado State has four players among the seven, and Boise State, San Diego State and San Jose State have one each.
Colorado State’s setter and 2017 MW Player of the Year, Katie Oleksak, was chosen as the 2018 MW Preseason Player of the Year. Last season, the Arizona native played in a team-high 116 sets, averaging 11.94 assists per set, which was eighth-best nationally. In 2017, Oleksak recorded five double-doubles (assists-digs) and has amassed 13 in her collegiate career.
Oleksak is one of seven student-athletes named to the All-MW Preseason Team, joined by her teammates Kirstie Hillyer, Paulina Hougaard-Jensen and Breana Runnels, Boise State’s Sabryn Roberts, San Diego State’s Deja Harris and San José State’s Luiza Andrade.
In 2017, Roberts started 29 matches for the Broncos, averaging 3.14 kills per set and 1.92 digs per set. She is one of 10 All-MW honorees that are returning from a year ago. Harris is on the league all-preseason team for a second season and enters the 2018 season as the active Conference leader in kills (930) and points (1,177). San José State’s Andrade, who becomes the first Spartan to be named to a preseason team since SJSU joined the league, played in 111 sets last season, averaging 3.96 digs per set and 1.03 assists per set.
Hougaard-Jensen returns to the court in 2018 after finishing second nationally in hitting percentage with a .474 mark on 479 total attacks. Hillyer, a year ago, notched 2.88 kills per set with a .383 attack percentage and tallied 10 double-digit kill performances. The 2017 MW Newcomer of the Year, Runnels enters her second season of competition after playing in all 33 matches in 2017, posting a team-high 367 kills.
The 2018 season opens on Aug. 24 with all 11 league members in action.
|2018 MOUNTAIN WEST PRESEASON TEAM|
|Player Cl. Pos. Team|
|Sabryn Roberts Sr. OH Boise State|
|Kirstie Hillyer R-Jr. MB Colorado State|
|Paulina Hougaard-Jensen Jr. MB Colorado State|
|Katie Oleksak Jr. S Colorado State|
|Breana Runnels R-So. OH Colorado State|
|Deja Harris Sr. MB San Diego State|
|Luiza Andrade Sr. L San José State|
|MW Preseason Player of the Year: Katie Oleksak, Jr., S, Colorado State|