Dec. 19, 2011
By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo.—Middle blocker Megan Plourde has excelled on the court all season, and on Monday she was rewarded for her performance, earning the title of the NCAA’s top blocker.
The junior from Somerset, Wis., who last week was named the ninth All-American in CSU history, averaged 1.71 blocks per set, leading the nation and tying for the highest blocks-per-set total in program history. Angie Miller also reached that average during the 1989 season.
Head Coach Tom Hilbert was very proud of his player.
“When you look at Meg and what she does as a blocker, and you realize that her statistics actually got better against regionally and nationally ranked opponents, it’s pretty impressive,” he said. “Blocking is the most complicated aspect of our sport, and she is the best blocker I’ve ever coached in my life.”
Plourde moved her way up the national list throughout the season, climbing from No. 16 in mid-October to No. 2 by the second week of November. She claimed the top spot on Nov. 21 and has held the position since.
The middle blocker becomes the second player in CSU history to be the annual leader in a statistical category, joining Angela Knopf, the only two-time first-team All-American in Rams annals. Knopf was the nation’s most efficient hitter during the 2001 season, holding an attack percentage of .456, which still stands as the eighth-best single-season figure in NCAA history.
Plourde’s 1.71 blocks-per-set average was 0.08 ahead of second-place Carly Wopat, a sophomore at Stanford. As a team, CSU averaged 3.15 blocks per set, third nationally and just 0.03 behind first-place Stanford. The Rams also ranked No. 10 with a .270 hitting percentage.
“She’s the best in the United States,” Hilbert said. “Not many people get to say that about anything they do.”
Plourde, who still has one year of eligibility remaining in her illustrious career, already ranks among the school’s best blockers. She finished the 2010 season as the No. 2 blocker in the country, and in her three seasons she has racked up 461 total blocks. That figure ranks fifth in CSU’s record book, and her 432 career block assists rank fourth. At her current career pace, Plourde will finish her four years at CSU ranked No. 2 in program history with 610 total blocks and first in block assists.
In 2011, Plourde tallied 170 block assists (second-highest single-season mark in program history) and 178 total blocks (fourth).
Other rankings: The NCAA ranks the top 250 athletes for each statistical category. Also ranked in the season’s final release were Dana Cranston (0.34 aces per set, 103rd); Deedra Foss (10.66 assists per set, 56th); Izzy Gaulia (4.75 digs per set, 72nd); Brieon Paige (.333 hitting percentage, 79th; 1.02 blocks per set, 139th); and Katelyn Steffan (4.31 points per set, 73rd; 3.59 kills per set, 107th). Plourde also ranked 193rd with a .297 hitting percentage.
Cranston’s 36 service aces were the most by a CSU player since 2005, while Gaulia’s 4.75 digs per set was the highest average in program history.
Attendance: The Rams were again among the best in attendance figures, drawing an average crowd of 2,151, good for 17th in the nation. CSU established a program and Mountain West record when 6,750 fans came through the turnstiles to witness the Rams upset then-No. 5 Nebraska on Sept. 2. That figure was the 20th-largest single-match crowd this season. It was the fourth largest when excluding matches played at Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Center.
RPI: CSU continued to climb up the RPI as the season progressed, jumping from No. 42 in late October to a season-best No. 27 in Monday’s final release. The Rams ranked No. 28 entering the NCAA tournament.
Two of CSU’s opponents—Nebraska (6) and Hawaii (10)—ranked in the top 10, while four other opponents ranked in the top 50.