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
North Dakota tops Montana in straight sets
North Dakota hit .302 and improved to 6-0 against Montana since joining the Big Sky Conference...
Griz drop 3-0 decision to Bears in Greeley
Montana got off to a slow start and never recovered Thursday night against Northern Colorado in...
Griz on road pursuing North Division leaders
The Montana volleyball team will play matches this week at Northern Colorado and North Dakota....
Coba leads Idaho past Montana in straight sets
Idaho snapped Montana's three-match winning streak with a 25-10, 25-21, 25-16 victory over the...
Griz win third straight, down Eagles 3-1
Montana had its best offensive outing of the season, hitting .385, and finally slowed down...
Surging Grizzlies host Eagles and Vandals this ...
The Montana volleyball team, off to a 2-0 start on its four-match home stand, will host Eastern...
Richardson named Big Sky Player of the Week
After leading the Montana volleyball team to a pair of important home-court victories last...
Griz make it two straight, win 3-1 over Hornets
One night after giving Jerry Wagner his 100th win, the Montana volleyball team put its coach on...