Dec. 6, 2011
By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations
LEXINGTON, Ky.—The 2011 season for the Colorado State women’s volleyball team wrapped up last weekend in the regional quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, but CSU student-athletes continue to be honored for their success on the court.
Announced Tuesday, junior Megan Plourde and senior Katelyn Steffan were named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) all-West region team, while Head Coach Tom Hilbert was named the West region’s Coach of the Year.
The nod is Steffan’s first, while Plourde was selected for the third consecutive year, becoming the only player in CSU history to be honored three times. It marks the fifth straight season that two or more CSU players have been recognized.
Steffan, who was also named the 2011 Mountain West Player of the Year, saved her best performance for the final year of her career. Switching to the left side, she led all teammates and ranked second in the Mountain West in kills and points per set, while placing in the top 10 in blocks, and just outside the top 10 in service aces. As the captain and only senior on the team, she led CSU in kills 18 times, including a career-high 28 twice. Steffan was named the MW Player of the Week twice in three weeks during October, and she earned Arkansas Invitational and Rams Volleyball Classic tournament MVP honors, in addition to being selected as the MW tournament MVP.
“Entering this year, Kate hadn’t even won all-conference,” Hilbert said. “All of a sudden, she’s the conference player of the year, tournament MVP and now an AVCA all-region selection. She really committed herself to becoming a better player and did a lot to make that happen. When you see a player do that it’s not by accident. It was a concerted effort to improve herself, which is really neat to see.”
Already established as one of the best blockers in the country, Plourde solidified her abilities in 2011, and currently leads the nation with 1.71 blocks per set. She led CSU in blocking 22 times this season, in addition to being the team’s third-best hitter (2.41 kills per set), and doing so at .309 hitting, top 10 in the Mountain West and nationally ranked. She also averaged 3.41 points per set, eighth in the Mountain West, and her blocks-per-set average is the highest single-season mark in program history. For her efforts, she earned her third all-Mountain West honor in 2011. Of the 14 players representing the West region, she is one of just four who will be returning next season.
“Meg is good offensively,” Hilbert said, “but almost a savant at blocking. She almost outblocks a lot of teams. Night after night she puts up these types of numbers. Anytime you’re the best at a statistical category it’s pretty special.”
Hilbert, named the MW Coach of the Year for the eighth time, in 2011, earned his first AVCA region coach of the year award in his 15 seasons at CSU. He also earned two honors while at Idaho. While the championships and NCAA tournament berths have become a standard in Fort Collins under Hilbert, the fashion that he did it in this season is what makes him worthy of the recognition. CSU lost five players after the 2010 season, including four starters and all-conference selections.
The Rams finished 2011 with a record of 24-6, including earning a third consecutive Mountain West regular-season championship, in addition to the league’s automatic NCAA tournament berth with three sweeps in the Mountain West tournament. From there CSU played in its 17th consecutive NCAA tournament, advancing to the regional quarterfinals against third-ranked Hawaii after beating No. 13 Oregon the night prior. CSU also had a milestone win earlier in the year, beating then-No. 5 Nebraska in front of a conference-record 6,750 fans at Moby Arena.
The West region encompasses schools from the states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming. In all, nine Mountain West student-athletes were selected, more than ever before.
Plourde and Steffan will now await the announcement of the AVCA All-America selections, which is slated for Dec. 14. Hilbert will be honored on Dec. 15 in San Antonio, Texas, at the AVCA annual convention, adjoining with the NCAA Final Four. There, the 2011 AVCA National Coach of the Year will be named.