Cougars Picked Fourth, Walker Named to Preseason All-MWC Team

Senior rightside hitter Kayla Walker was selected to the Preseason All-Mountain West Conference 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 fourth in the MWC this season with a total of 96 points and two first-place votes. Defending league-champion Utah was tabbed as the favorite to win the 2009 regular-season title while Colorado State was selected a close second and New Mexico was slotted just above BYU in third.

“This is an extremely competitive conference with a lot of talented athletes both returning and coming in,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “We’re excited to get the season started and start playing.”

The Utes collected eight first-place votes and 138 total points. CSU tallied 135 points to claim second-place in the poll, while New Mexico outpaced BYU with 112 points for third place. TCU (89 points) and UNLV (87 points) claimed fifth and sixth place, respectively, followed by San Diego State (seventh, 53 points), Wyoming (eighth, 38 points) and Air Force (ninth, 17 points).

BYU's Kayla Walker, a senior rightside hitter, was named to the Preseason All-MWC Team representing the Cougars. MWC All-Conference performers Tessa Nelson (Colorado State) and Jade Michaelsen (New Mexico) highlighted the Preseason All-MWC Team as they were tabbed the preseason MWC Co-Players of the Year. Six teams were represented on the 2009 preseason all-MWC squad, which also was chosen by the coaches and selected media.

“Without a doubt, Kayla will be the athlete to watch this year in the Mountain West Conference,” said Goulding. “She was a tremendous addition to our team last season, and I know she’s only going to get better this year.”

The 2009 season will feature seven returning all-Mountain West Conference players, including 2008 Freshman of the Year Cursty Jackson (UNLV). Last season, Jackson tallied the Conference’s highest freshman ranking in hitting percentage in overall and conference matches (.264 and .236, respectively), kills per set in overall and conference matches (2.55 and 2.72, respectively), and points per set in overall and league play (3.06 and 3.24, respectively). Walker (Sr., RS) returns for BYU, while Tessa Nelson (R-Sr., MB) will be back at Colorado State and Jade Michaelsen returns to New Mexico. Walker was third in the league in kills per set (3.24) in conference matches, while also finishing fourth in points per set (3.92) in conference play. Nelson ranked in the top-10 in blocks per set (6th, 1.16) and hitting percentage (9th, .312) in the league rankings, while Michaelsen finished second in assists per set (10.92). San Diego State’s Lauren Salisbury, TCU’s Christy Hudson and Utah’s Karolina Bartkowiak round out the returnee list. Salisbury ranked fourth in points per set (3.65), fifth in hitting percentage (.344) and 10th in kills per set (2.88) in overall matches last season. Hudson finished third in hitting percentage (.353) in overall matches, while Bartkowiak was second in hitting percentage (.354) in overall contests.

The 2009 season is set to begin Friday, August 28, with all nine league teams in action. Conference play begins on Wednesday, September 16, with New Mexico hosting TCU.

2009 PRESEASON ALL-MWC TEAM

Player Cl. Pos. Team

Kayla Walker Sr. RS BYU

Tessa Nelson R-Sr. MB CSU

Lauren Salisbury Jr. MB SDSU

Christy Hudson Jr. RS TCU

Karolina Bartkowiak Jr. OPP Utah

Setter: Jade Michaelsen Jr. UNM

Libero: Katelyn Blackwood Sr. TCU

Preseason Co-Players of the Year:

Tessa Nelson, CSU; Jade Michaelsen, UNM

2009 PRESEASON VOLLEYBALL COACHES’ POLL

Pl. Team (1st place votes) Points

1. Utah (8) 138

2. Colorado State (4) 135

3. New Mexico (3) 112

4. BYU (2) 96

5. TCU 89

6. UNLV 87

7. San Diego State 53

8. Wyoming 38

9. Air Force 17

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