PUEBLO, Colo. (August 17, 2015) ~ On the same day the Colorado State University-Pueblo volleyball team took to the court for preseason practice, the ThunderWolves were pegged to finish fifth in the 2015 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Preseason Volleyball Coaches' Poll. Additionally, reigning RMAC Defensive Player of the Year Oni Lattin (Sr., Houston, Texas) and 2014 RMAC All-Conference honoree Mariangel Perez (Jr., Catia La Mar, Venezuela) were both tabbed to the Preseason All-RMAC squad as announced Monday by the league office.
The ThunderWolves, who finished the 2014 season in fifth place in the RMAC regular-season standings, garnered 171 points overall and one first-place vote in this season's preseason poll. The Pack concluded last season with a 17-12 overall record, including an 11-7 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference record. The 17 victories are the most for CSU-Pueblo since the 1997 season, while the 11 league wins is their top mark dating back to 2004.
Lattin collects the preseason all-conference nod after recording an impressive junior season in 2014. In addition to being named the conference's defensive player of the year, Lattin was tabbed to the all-conference first team. The middle blocker ranked 20th in the country in total blocks with 134 and 25th in blocks per set (1.17) last season. She finished second in the RMAC in blocks per set and 20th in hitting percentage (.230). Lattin led the Pack in total blocks and ranked third in kills with 204.
Perez joins Lattin on the preseason all-conference team after being named to the 2014 all-conference first team during her first season with the ThunderWolves. Perez ranked eighth in the RMAC in kills per set (3.45), tied for 17th in service aces per set (0.24) and 17th in digs per set (3.35). The Catia La Mar, Venezuela, native paced the team in total attacks (1,114), kills (383), service aces (27) and ranked second in digs (372). She also topped the squad with 19 double-doubles.
Colorado Mines topped the preseason poll with eight first-place votes and 217 points overall. MSU Denver garnered 198 points overall and one first place vote to edge out Colorado Mesa (197 points, five first-place votes) for second place in the poll. Regis (189 points, one first-place vote) and CSU-Pueblo rounded out the top five in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
UCCS (151 points) followed the ThunderWolves in sixth place. Adams State (128 points, seventh place), Colorado Christian (118 points, eighth place) and Western New Mexico (107, ninth place) were the remaining three programs to collect at least 100 points.
Black Hills State (90 points) was tabbed 10th and was followed by Fort Lewis (82 points) and South Dakota Mines (67 points) in 11th and 12th place, respectively.
The remainder of the poll featured New Mexico Highlands (62 points) in 13th place, Chadron State (55 points) in 14th position and Western State (44 points) in 15th place. Westminster also garnered 44 points but is ineligible for RMAC postseason play while it transitions into NCAA Division II.
Colorado Mines' Danielle Johnson-Hazlewood was tabbed the RMAC Preseason Player of the Year and Setter of the Year. Rebecca Sponcil of Regis garnered the preseason defensive player of the year honor.
The Pack opened preseason practice Monday at Massari Arena. CSU-Pueblo will play a scrimmage at Colorado College Aug. 28 at 5 p.m.
The ThunderWolves open the season Sept. 4-5 at the Lady Buff Classic hosted by West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. CSU-Pueblo opens RMAC play Sept. 18 at Western New Mexico.
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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.