BYU Picked To Finish Third In Preseason MWC Poll

Senior Middle Blocker Rachel Dyer has been named to the preseason All-MWC Team. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

Senior Rachel Dyer Named to Preseason All-MWC Team

COLORADO SPRINGS -- A voting panel including the nine Mountain West Conference head coaches and selected media has picked the BYU women's volleyball team to finish third in the MWC this season with a total of 82 points and one first-place vote. Defending league-champion Colorado State was tabbed as the favorite to win the 2008 regular-season title while Utah was selected second and New Mexico was slotted just behind BYU in fourth.

"It's an honor to be included among the top teams in what will be a very competitive conference this season," said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. "We're excited to get the season started."

The Rams collected 13 first-place votes and 125 total points. Utah tallied 95 points to claim second-place in the poll, while BYU edged New Mexico by one point for third place. The Lobos collected 81 points for fourth place in the poll. UNLV (63 points) and TCU (56 points) claimed fifth and sixth place, respectively, followed by San Diego State (seventh, 48 points), Wyoming (eighth, 28 points) and Air Force (ninth, 15 points).

BYU's Rachel Dyer, a senior middle blocker, was named to the preseason All-MWC Team representing the Cougars. Colorado State senior middle blocker and 2007 MWC Player of the Year Mekana Barnes highlighted the preseason team as she was tabbed the preseason MWC Player of the Year. Four MWC teams were represented on the 2008 preseason All-MWC Team, which also was chosen by the coaches and selected media.

"It's an honor to be recognized on the preseason team," said Dyer. "We're looking forward to a great year. We have high expectations for ourselves and expect everyone to contribute to our success."

The 2008 season will see nine all-MWC players return, including 2007 MWC Player of the Year Mekana Barnes (Colorado State) and 2007 Freshman of the Year Lisa Meeter (New Mexico). Also returning for defending regular-season champion Colorado State will be Jaime Strauss (Sr., OH) and Ashley Fornstrom (Sr., S). Barnes was named Third-Team AVCA All-America in 2007, while Strauss and Fornstrom garnered honorable mention All-American acclaim. BYU's Rachel Dyer (Sr., MB) returns for the Cougars. Dyer led the league in hitting percentage in overall (.411) and conference matches (.408) last season, while also finishing in the top 10 in kills (10th, 3.34 kpg) and blocks (fifth, 1.31 bpg). Jeanne Fairchild (Sr., OH) is also back for New Mexico. Fairchild led the MWC in kills per game in conference matches (4.87). Melody Nua (Sr., S) returns to lead 2007 MWC Tournament Champion UNLV. Nua finished third in the league in assists in both overall (13.16 apg) and conference matches (13.39 apg) in 2007. Utah's Lori Baird will be back for the Utes in 2008. The two-time Honorable Mention AVCA All-Region honoree will be anchored by the return of 2006 AVCA All-American Emillie Toone, who missed the 2007 season with a knee injury.

The 2008 season is set to start on Friday, Aug. 29, with eight of nine conference teams in action. Conference play begins on Wednesday, Sept. 17, with TCU hosting New Mexico.

2008 PRESEASON VOLLEYBALL COACHES POLL

Pl. Team (1st place votes) Points

1. Colorado State (13) 125

2. Utah 95

3. BYU (1) 82

4. New Mexico 81

5. UNLV 63

6. TCU 56

7. San Diego State 48

8. Wyoming 28

9. Air Force 15

2008 PRESEASON ALL-MWC TEAM

Player Cl. Pos. Team

Rachel Dyer Sr. MB BYU

Mekana Barnes Sr. MB CSU

Jaime Strauss Sr. OH CSU

Jeanne Fairchild Sr. OH UNM

Emillie Toone Sr. MB/OH Utah

Setter: Ashley Fornstrom Sr. CSU

Libero: Gayle Tripp Sr. UNM

Preseason Player of the Year: Mekana Barnes, CSU