Plourde enters the NCAA tournament as the nation's best blocker.
Nov. 30, 2011
By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo.—Colorado State junior middle blocker Megan Plourde is the best blocker in the entire country.
Her 1.68 blocks-per-set average is top in the nation entering this weekend’s start to the NCAA tournament, and the it would go down as the second-highest average in CSU history. She capped 2010, her sophomore season, by breaking a CSU and Mountain West record when she recorded 19 blocks in an NCAA tournament match against Cal State Fullerton, finishing the season as the second-best blocker in the country.
But being the best is nothing new for Plourde, a native of Somerset, Wis.
“I feel like I’ve always been a competitive person,” she said. “Whether it’s volleyball or another sport, I’ve always been pretty driven to compete.”
The competitive drive in Plourde, though, didn’t begin on the volleyball court, or even on a track or in a basketball gym—two other sports in which Plourde excelled in high school. No, Plourde’s first competition came in the first years of her life on, of all places, a football field.
Not just any football field, however, but the infamous Metrodome, home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.
As a toddler, Plourde competed in the Little Lovies diaper crawling contest. After taking first in a local contest, she made the regional competition, where she won again. She was crowned as the Little Lovies diaper crawling champion and was awarded a year’s supply of diapers.
From there it was the halftime show of a Vikings game.
“We were down on the field, and my dad was meeting all sorts of people,” Plourde recalls. “The mascot came over to me and apparently I freaked out. I got so scared. I was bawling, and I couldn’t even crawl.”
Thankfully for the Rams, Plourde’s stage fright has never returned, as she’s developed into one of the greatest blockers in CSU history.
Already a three-time all-Mountain West and two-time AVCA all-West Region first-team selection, Plourde has set herself up for big things in her career in Fort Collins. In August she was named the 2011 Preseason Player of the Year, and in 2010, she recorded 153 block assists, fifth in CSU annals. She’s on pace in 2011 to surpass last year’s totals, and is already in the top 10 in career blocks. In fact, at her current average, she will finish her collegiate career second all-time in total blocks.
There, she’ll be in good company, etching her name alongside CSU greats Angela Knopf, Summer Jennings, Dre Downs and Mekana Barnes.
But good blocking is nothing new for CSU, who has consistently been known as one of the best blocking teams in the country. Plourde credits the team’s tutor, associate head coach Jesse Mahoney.
“Jesse’s a great blocking coach,” Plourde said. “Since I’ve been here, I think that’s one of the main reasons why we’ve been so good. I feel like he teaches us a lot, and we just go with it.”
CSU as a team currently ranks third in the nation in blocks, outblocking its opponents in 25 of its 27 matches.
While Plourde will be remembered for her blocking ability, she is also among the best attackers on the team with more than two kills per set and ranking in the Mountain West’s top 10 in attack percentage.
“I played six rotations in high school, so I’m used to the variety,” she said. “I like getting a big block better, though, because you know you’re shutting one of their good players down. It’s also cool when Jesse calls a block and I make the move and get a big block. I think that’s cool for both of us.”
The road to Fort Collins was a long one for Plourde, who was a state champion in the high jump as a freshman, and thought she’d play basketball collegiately until late in her high-school years. She was recruited by schools spanning the country, from Minnesota and Wisconsin to Florida State.
Plourde admits that she originally wanted to stay close to home, but when the big schools near her hometown wanted her to walk on, she looked elsewhere. It wasn’t until a club volleyball tournament in Denver that she looked at CSU.
“I had gotten letters from Denver University and Colorado State, so I went to the tournament and my dad was like, ‘We might as well look at these schools.’
“We went to Denver University, and it was a really pretty campus, but I didn’t like the feel of it. Then we came to Colorado State and I fell in love with the campus. The coaches seemed really, really nice and the team felt right. Even though Colorado State is a huge school, I felt like it had the college campus feeling.”
Despite being so far from home, homesickness has never been an issue for Plourde.
Away from the court, she enjoys shopping, kayaking with her brother when she goes home to visit, and hanging out with friends, family and her 1-year-old puppy Charlie, a lhasa apso.
“He’s my other half,” Plourde said with a smile. “It’s hard for me to be gone on the road and stuff because I miss him so much.”
Plourde has two roommates and several friends that take care of him while she’s gone, and on Tuesdays he generally gets to go to doggy daycare because of its special price that day of the week.
But as much as she hates being away from Charlie, being gone for a little bit longer would be alright for Plourde if it meant more winning.
“We reached our goal of winning the conference and conference tournament,” she said, “but we’re not satisfied. Now we’re heading into the NCAA tournament and we’re looking for some more wins.”
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