For the second year in a row, the Utes have been picked to win the MWC.
Aug. 7, 2003
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - For the second year in a row, the Utah volleyball team has been picked in the preseason poll to win the conference title. In a vote of the Mountain West Conference's eight head coaches, the reigning MWC Tournament champions earned five first-place votes and 47 points.
"Last year we had to learn as a program how to deal with being the front runner," Head Coach Beth Launiere said. "What we learned is that you keep the same blue collar work ethic regardless of your preseason pick or ranking. We're ready for it this year - we know how to handle it. Our goal is to work to get better continuously throughout the season."
Colorado State, which fell to Hawaii in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, is second, and BYU, which lost to the Utes in the 2002 MWC Tournament championship match, is third. San Diego State, which placed second in the '02 regular-season standings, is fourth, followed by UNLV, Wyoming, New Mexico and Air Force.
Senior Kim Turner, the reigning Co-MWC Player of the Year, highlighted the 2003 preseason all-MWC team, which is also selected by the league's head coaches. The only two-time MWC Tournament MVP in league history, Turner needs five block assists and 435 kills to move into first place all-time in both categories at Utah.
Joining Turner on the preseason all-conference team was junior setter Kelsie Kartchner, who was named the Best Setter at last year's MWC Tournament.
Utah opens the 2003 season Aug. 29-30, when they travel to Tempe, Ariz., for the Wyndham Buttes/Sun Devil Volleyball Classic. There they will face host Arizona State, San Diego and Ohio.
The following weekend, Sept. 5-6, the Utes host the Hampton Inn Volleyball Classic. Utah faces Washington State at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 29. On Saturday, Aug. 30, Utah plays Utah Valley State at noon and Missouri at 7 p.m. Both Washington State and Missouri were ranked in the final 2002 USA Today/AVCA Coaches Poll.
The conference season gets underway for Utah on Friday, Sept. 26, when the Utes host Wyoming for a 7 p.m. match. The Mountain West Conference Championship will be held in San Diego, Calif., Nov. 20-22, at San Diego State University.
2003 Mountain West Conference Preseason Coaches Poll
Rank Team (1st place votes) Points '02 Finish
1. Utah (5) 47 3rd
2. Colorado State (2) 41 1st
3. BYU 36 4th
4. San Diego State (1) 35 2nd
5. UNLV 23 5th
6. Wyoming 22 6th
7. New Mexico 13 7th
8. Air Force 7 8th
2003 Preseason All-MWC Team
Player Yr. Pos. Team
Kim Turner* Sr. MB Utah
Aspen McPartland Sr. MB SDSU
Michele Rauter Sr. OH Wyoming
Kelsie Kartchner Jr. S Utah
Laura Nielsen Sr. MB BYU
Setter: Melissa Courtney Jr. Colorado State
Libero: Lindsey Kerr Jr. Colorado State
* Preseason Player of the Year