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Somerset's Megan Plourde helps Colorado State win fourth straight MWC title

Somerset native Megan Plourde (5) is one of four seniors on the Colorado State University women's volleyball team.

When Megan Plourde was recruited by Colorado State University, the strong tradition of the CSU volleyball program was one of the strongest attractions for Plourde.

Fast forward four years. Plourde has added greatly to that tradition, helping CSU win four straight Mountain West Conference volleyball championships. Last Friday, CSU locked up its fourth straight MWC title by defeating New Mexico in four sets. Plourde scored with 11 kills in the victory and she led the Rams with seven block kills.

"To give this group of kids four rings, four championships in a row, that is pretty darn special," said CSU coach Tom Hilbert said of his senior class. "There are athletes in a lot of sports at all levels who don't have the level of excellence that these four kids do. I am privileged to have had them come here and play for me. Tonight, it was an honor to be able to see them win this championship in front of a great crowd."

The conference championship earned CSU an automatic bid into the NCAA Division 1 national tournament field. This is the 18th straight year that the Rams have qualified for the NCAA tournament field. That is the seventh longest streak among all NCAA Division 1 programs.

The NCAA tournament field was announced on Sunday. CSU will open tournament play on Friday, facing Purdue University from the Big Ten Conference. That match will be played in Tallahassee, Fla.

The CSU senior class contains four star players who have excelled on the court, and more importantly, have excelled away from it. They have already experienced 96 victories in their four years in the program.

"Between those four players: Dana Cranston, Izzy Gaulia, Brieon Paige and Megan Plourde, there's 15 years of starting experience, and that's a lot of experience," Hilbert said. "But it's so much more than what they bring to the court statistically. Their leadership and their presence, and everyone's comfort level around them, is what makes this group special. That's why they are such a big deal."

Here is a profile of Plourde that appeared in the CSU program last week.

A middle blocker from Somerset, Plourde led the nation in blocks per set a year ago, becoming just the second CSU player to lead the country in a statistical category, and was named the ninth AVCA All-American in program history. She's a three-time All-Mountain West selection, and will look for her fourth nod this fall. She set CSU's single-season record in blocks in 2011, and entering the final weeks of the 2012 season, ranks second in CSU history in blocks, and has a chance to become the program's top all-time blocker. She is also one of just two players in CSU history to total more than 1,000 career kills and 600 career blocks. She is a two-time Academic All-Mountain West pick.

"These last four years have been the four best years of my life. I've met new friends that I'll keep for the rest of my life, and our whole team has been a second family, so it's been cool to experience everything with them. It truly has been an incredible experience, and one I would come back to if I ever had the chance to do so again. It's been incredible to play in front of the Moby (Arena) crowd. We've had unbelievable crowds, and we're so lucky and blessed to have such a supportive community and such great student support. I will always remember and appreciate my time here," Plourde said.

Plourde has been the MWC Player of the Week three times this season. That includes consecutive honors in two weeks earlier this month. She is the second CSU player ever to win the MWC honor three times in a season and also in consecutive weeks. She has won the honor five times in her career.