Dec. 30, 2011
Montana volleyball coach Jerry Wagner is highly selective when it comes to recruiting and highly protective of the valuable spots on his roster and the chemistry that will result. To get the Grizzlies to the top of the Big Sky Conference he knows a team stocked with only the best of the best is going to produce championships.
With an active roster of only 11 last fall, Wagner proved once again he is not afraid to stick to his recruiting approach of quality over quantity.
Wagner signed only one player during November's early signing period, but Gabby Crowell of Bend, Ore., is more and more proving to be the quality of student-athlete that Wagner is looking for.
Crowell, a 5-11 outside hitter who led Summit High School to the Oregon Class 5A state title last month, was named the 2011 Class 5A Player of the Year recently and first team all-state for the second consecutive season.
One coach's opinion could probably be written off as so much coach speak, but Class 5A Coach of the Year Jill Waskom, Crowell's coach at Summit High, backs up everything Wagner has been saying about the first signee of his 2012 team.
"(Gabby is) very passionate about volleyball," Waskom told The Oregonian. "Every day she is physically and mentally into volleyball."
Wagner cast his recruiting net deeper than just Crowell but missed out on an outside hitter from California and a junior college middle blocker.
While finishing second in a recruiting battle may not be something to toast, being the final of two choices between Columbia, one of the Ivy League's eight schools, in one case and West Virginia of the Big East Conference in the other means Wagner and assistant coaches Gina Schmidt and Allison Lawrence are for the most part excelling in the two most important aspects of recruiting: identifying talent and selling that talent on everything Montana has to offer.
What the 2012 team has to offer likely will be another upper division finish in the Big Sky Conference and a return to the postseason tournament.
The Grizzlies went 11-13 last season and missed out on the Big Sky tournament for the first time in four years. The team's 8-8 league record came up a game short.
The 2012 team will return four starters, none of whom will be seniors in the fall.
- Online Stores
Wagner stepping down as Griz volleyball coach
Montana volleyball coach Jerry Wagner is stepping down from his position after nine seasons...
Season ends in Big Sky tournament quarterfinals
The season came to a close for the Montana volleyball team Thursday morning at the Big Sky...
Richardson named second-team All-Big Sky...
Montana middle blocker Capri Richardson was voted second-team All-Big Sky Conference this week by...
Griz face No. 2 North Dakota Thursday in...
The Montana volleyball team, holding the No. 7 seed, will face No. 2 North Dakota Thursday at 10:...
Griz fall to Bobcats, drop to No. 7 seed
The Montana volleyball team lost to Montana State in straight sets Saturday night at the West...
Griz hang with Big Sky-leading Bengals but fall...
The Montana volleyball team pushed Big Sky Conference champion Idaho State to five sets Thursday ...
Griz looking to lock down tournament spot this ...
The Montana volleyball team will try to clinch a spot to next week's Big Sky Conference...
North Dakota tops Montana in straight sets
North Dakota hit .302 and improved to 6-0 against Montana since joining the Big Sky Conference...