CSU-Pueblo Volleyball opens 2015 season at BritKare Lady Buff Classic

CSU-Pueblo Volleyball opens 2015 season at BritKare Lady Buff Classic

PUEBLO, Colo. (September 3, 2015) ~ Coming off its highest win total since the 1997 season and first Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference playoff berth since 2011, the Colorado State University-Pueblo Volleyball team has high expectations as it enters the 2015 campaign. The ThunderWolves return all but one starter from the 2014 squad and with the addition of several talented newcomers, Head Coach Jen Gomez's team is poised for a run in the RMAC Tournament.

CSU-Pueblo opens the 2015 season this weekend at the BritKare Lady Buff Classic in Canyon, Texas. The Pack will play four contests in two days, beginning Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. (MDT) versus Eastern New Mexico University. The ThunderWolves will contest host and No. 22-ranked West Texas A&M University Friday at 6:30 p.m. (MDT), before wrapping up their trip to the Lone Star State with Saturday tilts against Lubbock Christian University at 10:00 a.m. (MDT) and Dallas Baptist University at 2:30 p.m. (MDT).

How to follow the ThunderWolves
Twitter - @gothunderwolves
CSU-Pueblo vs. Eastern New Mexico (Friday at 8:00 a.m.) – LIVE STATS
CSU-Pueblo vs. No. 22 West Texas A&M (Friday at 6:30 p.m.) – LIVE STATS / LIVE VIDEO
CSU-Pueblo vs. Lubbock Christian (Saturday at 10:00 a.m.) – LIVE STATS
CSU-Pueblo vs. Dallas Baptist (Saturday at 2:30 p.m.) – LIVE STATS

Quick hits
- The Pack were tabbed to finish fifth in the RMAC Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll.
- Senior Oni Lattin (Houston, Texas) and junior Mariangel Perez (Catia La Mar, Venezuela) were both tabbed to the Preseason All-RMAC squad.
- CSU-Pueblo is 12-24 all-time in season openers. In the 2014 season opener, the Pack fell to Midwestern State, 3-2.
- The ThunderWolves are a combined 8-22 against their four opponents at the BritKare Lady Buff Classic, including a 4-14 mark against Eastern New Mexico, 0-5 tally versus West Texas A&M, 1-1 record against Lubbock Christian and a 3-2 ledger versus Dallas Baptist.
- Last season, CSU-Pueblo went 7-8 in neutral site/road matches.

2014 Recap
The Pack concluded the 2014 season with a 17-12 overall record, including an 11-7 RMAC mark. 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. The ThunderWolves clinched their first appearance in the RMAC Volleyball Tournament after earning the No. 5 seed.

Middle blocker Oni Lattin was tabbed the RMAC Defensive Player of the Year to become the first player in program history to garner a conference player of the year plaudit. Lattin also received a first-team all-conference nod as did Mariangel Perez. Lattin and Perez were the first Pack players to be tabbed to the first team since 1999.

2015 Schedule
The Pack have 26 contests on their 2015 schedule, including 13 home matches and 13 away tilts. CSU-Pueblo will play 18 RMAC contests and eight matches in two tournaments. The ThunderWolves will face six teams who are either ranked or receiving votes in the preseason AVCA Top-25 poll.

2015 Roster
CSU-Pueblo returns eight of nine players who were in the team's main rotation last season. Headlining the group of returners is reigning RMAC Defensive Player of the Year Oni Lattin and fellow first-team All-RMAC selection Mariangel Perez.

Last season, Lattin ranked 20th in the country in total blocks with 134 and 25th in blocks per set (1.17), while finishing second in the RMAC in blocks per set and 20th in hitting percentage (.230). 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). She paced the team in total attacks (1114), kills (383), service aces (27) and ranked second in digs (372).

Other key returners for the ThunderWolves are seniors Morgan Wilkening (Sr., Fleming, Colo.), Alex Sansavera (R-Sr., San Antonio, Texas) and Jordan Bruere (Sr., Rio Rancho, N.M.).

Wilkening enters her senior season ranked third in program history in career attack attempts (3,125) and 10th in career kills (894). Last season, the Fleming, Colo., native set career highs in kills (319), total attacks (1064), assists (33) and digs (338), while ranking 18th in the RMAC in kills per set (2.77) and 22nd in digs per set (2.94).

Sansavera and Bruere split time at the setter position last season. Sansavera posted a team-leading 620 assists, which ranked her 15th in the RMAC in assists per set (5.44). Bruere ranked 19th in the RMAC in assists per set (4.64) after setting a career high in assists with 529.

Rounding out the group of key returners from last season are juniors Tanja Ranilovic (R-Jr., Belgrade, Serbia), Megan Schultz (Jr., Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Katie Burnett (Jr., Austin, Texas).

Ranilovic set career highs in kills (109), digs (41) and blocks (60) in 2014. Her 60 blocks were tied for third most on the team. Schultz posted a .235 hitting percentage which ranked 18th in the RMAC. She set career highs in kills (185), blocks (60) and digs (47). Burnett paced the team with a career-high 484 digs overall, while finishing tied for eighth in the RMAC in digs per set with 4.21.

Other returning players who will look compete for playing time this season are Mikala Morris (R-So., Tempe, Ariz.), PuaLehua Keola (R-Fr., Honolulu, Hawaii), Brooklin LeBon (So., Frederick, Colo.), Elena Michalski (So., Longmont, Colo.) and Melissa Nichols (So., McKinney, Texas). 

The ThunderWolves have a pair of newcomers who Gomez expects to make an immediate impact in Yenifer Calcano (R-Sr., San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic) and Nebraska-Kearney transfer Caitlin Broadwell (So., Lawrence, Kan.).

CSU-Pueblo rounds out its roster with a trio of freshman, Lindsey Moss (Fr., Creede, Colo.), Leah Roberson (Fr., Swink, Colo.) and ShiAnn Rodriguez (Fr., Pueblo, Colo.).

Looking ahead
The Pack, along with UCCS, will host the annual Steel & Silver Classic Sept. 11-12 at Massari Arena. CSU-Pueblo will play four matches in two days, beginning with a tilt against Texas Woman's University Sept. 11 at 2:00 p.m.   

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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.