Dec. 14, 2011
By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations
LEXINGTON, Ky.—Already experiencing a memorable year, junior Megan Plourde and senior Katelyn Steffan capped the 2011 season with the ultimate collegiate volleyball honor, as both were named to the third-team All-America by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
The two student-athletes became the ninth and 10th players in CSU history to earn All-America honors, and it marks just the fourth time that two Rams have been selected in the same season.
Plourde and Steffan join Angela Knopf (2001 first team) and Soraya Santos (2001 second team); Knopf (2000 first team) and Courtney Cox (2000 second team); and Diane Saba (1987 first team) and Angie Knox (1987 second team) as the only pairs to do so. Sherri Danielson (1984 first team, 1985 second team), Catie Vagneur (1999 second team) and Mekana Barnes (2007 third team) are CSU’s other All-America award-winners, giving the program 12 awards overall.
“It’s difficult at a place like CSU to get All-Americans,” Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. “Meg and Kate join a short list in CSU history, and that’s pretty special. They’re both deserving and did special things for us.”
Already established as one of the best blockers in the country, Plourde, a middle blocker from Somerset, Wis., solidified her abilities in 2011. She currently leads the nation with 1.71 blocks per set, and is expected to finish the season as the NCAA’s top blocker.
“It’s such an honor to receive such recognition,” Plourde said, “and I thank all my teammates and coaches for the opportunities they have given me. My team and coaches are the reason for the position I am in today. We worked very hard for everything we accomplished this year and feel good about how the year went.”
She led CSU in blocking 22 times this year, in addition to being the team’s third-best hitter (2.38 kills per set), and doing so at .297 hitting, top 10 in the Mountain West and nationally ranked. She also averaged 3.36 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.
“Meg was almost a no-brainer,” Hilbert said. “She’s the best blocker in the country, and that’s something to be very proud of.”
Steffan, who was 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.
“I really am speechless,” Steffan said. “It’s a huge honor and something I dreamt about when I got to CSU. I remember having a meeting with Tom as a freshman and I told him I wanted to be an All-American.”
As the captain and only senior on the team, the Dickinson, N.D., native 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.
“Kate is the epitome of a great all-around player,” Hilbert said. “She’s good at each statistical category.”
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.
Both student-athletes will join Hilbert this week at the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio, Texas, and will be honored Friday at the AVCA All-America/Players of the Year Banquet presented by Zamst. Each of the three AVCA All-America Teams, selected by the AVCA Division I All-America Committee, is comprised of 14 athletes. Hilbert, who last week was selected as the AVCA West Region Coach of the Year, will be recognized along with the seven other regional winners, with one being named the national coach of the year.
“I’m really excited for them to be with me in San Antonio,” Hilbert said. “I’ll have my chest puffed out walking around with my players. I’m really, really proud of them.”