Cougars Open Camp, Picked Second in Preseason MWC Poll

Coming off MWC Freshman of the Year honors, BYU's Lindsy Hartsock is among the preseason favorites to earn All-MWC accolades in 2004. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

Cougars Listed 35th in Preseason Top-25 Poll

PROVO -- As the BYU women's volleyball team started camp Thursday in preparation for the 2004 season, the Mountain West Conference announced the results of its preseason poll, predicting a second-place finish for the Cougars.

With seven returning letterwinners, including MWC Freshman of the Year Lindsy Hartsock and All-MWC performer Lauren Richards, the Cougars were voted to finish second only to Colorado State in their bid to win the MWC Championship for the first time in four years. Utah was picked to finish third followed by San Diego State, Wyoming, UNLV, New Mexico and Air Force. The voting panel consisted of the league's eight head coaches and select media who cover the conference.

"I'm pleased that people see our program as one of the favorites," said BYU head coach Karen Lamb. "But the only thing that really matters is what we do on the court. Obviously it's nice for everyone to think well of us, but we have a lot of work to do to make these predictions reality."

BYU also received a nod from the national voters, garnering 58 votes in the USA Today / CSTV Top 25 Preseason Coaches Poll. Defending national champion USC grabbed the top spot in the poll while five of BYU's 2004 opponents were awarded Top 25 recognition, including No. 3 UCLA, No. 8 Penn State, No. 11 Colorado State, No. 24 Utah and No. 25 Notre Dame.

After a spectacular freshman year in which she received All-West Region Honorable Mention honors and ranked sixth in the league in blocks (1.21 per game), BYU's Hartsock was included among the preseason favorites for All-MWC honors, the only Cougar named. The 6-4 middle blocker looks to be a formidable defensive presence for BYU this season. Colorado State senior Melissa Courtney highlighted the preseason All-MWC team as the Player of the Year. Five MWC teams were represented on the 2004 preseason All-MWC team.

Looking around the conference, seven All-MWC players return for the 2004 season. In addition to Hartsock and Richards, who was among the league leaders for assists (1344) and aces (50) and who led BYU with 11 double-doubles on the year, Co-Player of the Year Courtney (Sr., S) of Colorado State returns after leading the Rams to the MWC regular season and tournament titles last year after setting an MWC season record with 1,623 assists. All-conference performers Katie Jo Shirley (Sr., MB) and Tess Rogers (Jr., OH) also return for Colorado State. Shirley led the MWC in hitting percentage (.416), while Rogers was named MWC Tournament MVP.

Utah and Wyoming each return one all-conference performer. Shelly Sommerfeldt (Jr., OH) will lead the Utah attack after ranking seventh in kills per game (3.64) last year. Sara Maytorena (Sr., OH) will anchor the Cowgirl lineup after leading the team in kills (347) and blocks (109) in 2003.

2004 MWC Preseason Coaches Poll

Rk. Team (1st votes) Pts. 2003 Finish

1. Colorado State (14) 118 1st

2. BYU 100 3rd

3. Utah (1) 97 2nd

4. San Diego State 65 4th

5. Wyoming 59 T-5th

6. UNLV 40 T-5th

7. New Mexico 33 8th

8. Air Force 28 T-5th

2004 Preseason All-MWC Team

Player Cl. Pos. Team

Katie Jo Shirley (Cahoon) Sr. MB Colorado State

Shelly Sommerfeldt Jr. OH Utah

Lindsy Hartsock So. MB BYU

Sara Maytorena Sr. Opp. Wyoming

Tess Rogers Jr. OH Colorado State

Setter: Melissa Courtney Sr. S Colorado State

Libero: Adah Burke Sr. L New Mexico