MW Volleyball Kicks Off: Wyoming and CSU Face Ranked Opponents
COLORADO SPRINGS – The 20th season of Mountain West volleyball opens this weekend as all 11 MW teams will see non-conference action. This weekend’s contests feature two nationally ranked foes -- the Wyoming Cowgirls facing No. 15 Colorado, and No. 25 Colorado State going up against No. 12 Illinois.
The Conference will play in 31 matches during the weekend, with seven home contests being streamed via the Mountain West Network.
Colorado State, selected by the league’s head coaches as the preseason favorite, opens the season versus Illinois, which advanced to the third round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament after defeating Hawai’i and No. 8 seed Washington. The Rams return the 2017 MW Player of the Year Katie Oleksak, who averaged 11.94 assists per set last season.
The Wyoming Cowgirls are hosting the Rumble in the Rockies tournament which features North Florida, Oral Roberts and Colorado. Wyoming returns six starters from a year ago and is led by senior Reed Copeland, who is the MW’s active leader in block solos (64), block assists (399) and total blocks (463). Wyoming finished second in the MW preseason coaches poll with 91 points and received one first-place vote.
Rounding out the MW preseason poll was San Diego State and Boise State, which both received 75 points (tied for third), New Mexico with 59 points (fifth), San José State with 56 points (sixth), Fresno State with 39 points (seventh), Utah State and Air Force at 31 points (tied for eighth), Nevada at 25 points (10th) and UNLV with 23 points.
The MW returns 10 all-league selections from a year ago, while all three of the individual award winners from last season return, including MW Player of the Year Katie Oleksak
(Colorado State), MW Freshman of the Year Marissa Harmon (Wyoming) and MW Newcomer of the Year Breana Runnels (Colorado State).
• Harmon is the lone honorable mention returner in 2018. A year ago, she played in 115 sets and recorded 1,101 assists. • Last week, the Mountain West in partnership with Stadium
announced the over-the-air broadcasting of 10 volleyball contests. More information can be found on TheMW.com.
• In 2018, the MW welcomes two new head coaches to the league in Fresno State’s Jonathan Winder and UNLV’s Dawn Sullivan.
• During the offseason, the MW sent 12 student-athletes to compete overseas at the 2018 Global Challenge organized by Bring It USA. The MW team, which featured student-athletes
from eight of the 11 league institutions, returned home with second-place honors in the event.
The All-MW preseason team features Boise State’s Sabryn Roberts, Colorado State’s Kirstie Hillyer, Paulina Hougaard-Jensen, Oleksak, Breana Runnels, San Diego State’s Deja Harris and San José State’s Luiza Andrade.