TEAM BY TEAM NOTES

 

Boise State Broncos (0-0, 0-0 WAC)

Boise State returns 10 from the 2007 roster as well as four who saw time in all 29 matches last season ... the team returns Jeanette Jenkins, Boise State’s kills leader in 2007 (255 kills) ... Jenkins also returns as the top point scorer with 290.0 points which led the team in 2007 ... with 143 more digs, senior Jamie Claussen will crack the Broncos’ all-time top 10 list for digs in a career ... she currently has 765 in 269 games for an average of 2.84 ... junior Mandy Klein ranks seventh on the Bronco all-time list with 1,739 career assists ... BSU returns its top setter from 2007, Mandy Klein, who had 1,034 assists ... Lauren Hamm returns as the top server, recording 31 aces in 2007.

 

Fresno State Bulldogs (0-0, 0-0 WAC)

This will be the first year under new head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell ... the team returns five starters from last season, including all-WAC Freshman team member Tairyn Rasmussen and the 2006 WAC Freshman of the Year Lacey Gera ... Fresno State was second among WAC schools in digs per game with a 17.23 average in 2007 ... the Bulldogs set a five-game Fresno State record with 13 service aces against Boise State ... with 15 blocks against Hawai’i, the Bulldogs set a new three-game school record ... Lisa Gera broke into the single-season school top 10 list in 2007 at the libero position in service aces (24) and digs (403).

 

Hawai‘i Rainbow Wahine (0-0, 0-0 WAC)

UH has won 13 consecutive conference titles, including all 12 titles since joining the WAC ... UH has posted 35-straight winning seasons ... UH also qualified for its 26th NCAA Tournament overall and 15th in a row, last year ... Hawai‘i led the nation in attendance for the 14th consecutive season, averaging 6,452 per match ... UH finished the season ranked No. 18 in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Poll, the 25th time they have ended the season ranked out of the 26 years of the poll ... UH is ranked 12th in the CBS College Sports Network/AVCA Division I  Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll.

 

Idaho Vandals  (0-0, 0-0 WAC)

Idaho has finished .500 or better in conference play for the past five seasons ... Idaho set a school record with 513 block assists last season ... senior Haley Larsen ended the season ranked No. 7 in the nation for kills per game (5.39) ... she was ranked in the top seven for 10 consecutive weeks and was ranked as high as No. 2 earlier in the season ... UI return all six starters and nine letterwinners from a 2007 team which featured no seniors ... Larsen and Sarah Loney earned all-WAC honors in 2007 ... Anna McKinney and Loney ended the season ranked tied  for eighth on Idaho’s all-time records list for single-season block assists with 123.

 

Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters (0-0, 0-0 WAC)

Tech first year head coach Matt Sonnichsen makes his return to the WAC after coaching Tulsa from 1998-2005 ... the team returns seven players from last year’s team and loses three seniors ... Sonnichsen comes to Louisiana Tech after leading Newberry College to a 19-9 record in his first and only season ... it was a 15-win turnaround for the Indians ... the Lady Techsters won their first WAC match since the 2005 season with a five-game victory over Boise State last year ... Kara Jones entered the Lady Techster record books after amassing eight blocks in a single match in 2007 ... it ranks her 13th all time for blocks in a match.

 

Nevada Wolf Pack (0-0, 0-0 WAC)

Lindsay Baldwin returns for her sophomore season after being named to the 2007 all-WAC Freshman Team ... Nevada returns just one senior, Allison Hernandez,  from last year’s team that went 16-11 overall and 10-6 in WAC play ... head coach Devin Scruggs enters her 12th season of coaching the Wolf Pack in 2008 and has posted a 189-133 career mark, all at Nevada ... Scruggs has led the Pack to five NCAA Tournament appearances ... all eight returners from last year’s team started at least one match, and five were starters most of the season ... Nevada has posted a winning conference record each season since joining the WAC in 2000.

 

New Mexico State Aggies (0-0, 0-0 WAC)

New Mexico State finished 26-6 last year and made it to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season and for the fourth time in five years ... the team was nationally ranked for 13-straight weeks last year ... the Aggies hosted the WAC volleyball tournament for the first time ever and made it to the WAC Championship for the second consecutive season ... NMSU placed six players on all-WAC teams in 2007 ... it was the sixth-straight year for New Mexico State to get at least 20 wins in a season after capturing 26 wins last year ... NMSU has not had a losing season since 2000.

 

San Jose State Spartans  (0-0, 0-0 WAC)

San Jose State returns nine letterwinners and five starters from last year’s team that finished 14-15 overall, 7-9 in the WAC and advanced to the semifinals of the WAC Tournament ... SJSU returns three all-WAC honorees from last season ... two Spartans will enter elite company this season as both near their 1,000th career kill ... Niki Clement currently stands at 988 kills, while Colleen Burns has 951 kills ... they will become just the 11th and 12th players in school history to record 1,000 career kills as a Spartan.

 

 

Utah State Aggies (0-0, 0-0 WAC)

Utah State returns four starters, plus its libero, and 10 letterwinners from last year’s team that went 17-13 on the season and finished in third place in the WAC with an 11-5 league record ... among those returning for USU are senior outside hitter Melissa Osterloh and junior middle blocker Danielle Taylor who both earned second-team all-WAC honors in 2007, and sophomore setter Chelsea Fowles who was named the WAC’s freshman of the year last season ... Utah State concluded the 2007 regular season by recording one of its biggest wins in school history with a three-game sweep against then No. 10 Hawai’i on the Islands ... the win snapped a 108-conference match home winning streak for the Rainbow Wahine.

 

 

WAC NOTES

 

2008 OPENS SERVE WITH PAIR OF WAC TEAMS IN TOP-25

Hawai‘i and New Mexico State have each landed a spot in the 2008 CBS College Sports Network/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll. The Rainbow Wahine have been selected No. 12, while the Aggies are ranked No. 23. Hawai‘i and New Mexico State were respectively ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the 2008 WAC preseason coaches poll. UH wrapped up the 2007 season with a record of 27-6, advancing to the NCAA second round. UH ended 2007 ranked No. 18 in the poll. The Rainbow Wahine also won their 12th straight Western Athletic Conference title and 13th consecutive conference championship overall. The Aggies, who finished the 2007 season with a 26-6 record, received 229 votes for the No. 23 ranking. NMSU ended the 2007 season No. 21 after reaching the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season.  Hawai‘i opens its season at home against No. 1 ranked Penn State on Aug. 29, while New Mexico State will take on Oregon Aug. 29 at a tournament in Champaign, Ill.

 

HAWAI‘I RANKED FIRST IN PRESEASON POLL

Defending Western Athletic Conference volleyball champion Hawai‘i has been selected in a poll by the league’s coaches to defend its crown in 2008 and take home its 13th-straight regular-season title.

 

The Rainbow Wahine received eight of the nine first-place votes with New Mexico State earning the other first-place vote. Hawai‘i earned 64 total points followed by New Mexico State with 57. For the second-straight season San Jose State and Idaho finished tied for third with 42 points. Utah State was picked fifth with 40, while Nevada was picked sixth with 34. Boise State finished in seventh place with 20 points, and Fresno State earned 16 points, good for eighth. Louisiana Tech was picked ninth with nine points. Both the Bulldogs and the Lady Techsters have new coaches this season. Lauren Netherby-Sewell takes the reigns at Fresno State, while Matt Sonnichsen becomes head coach at Louisiana Tech.

 

Hawai‘i is coming off a 27-6 season in 2007 that saw the Rainbow Wahine earn their 12th-consecutive WAC regular-season title with a 15-1 record. Hawai‘i also captured its eighth WAC Tournament title. Both Hawai‘i and New Mexico State advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season.

 

The 2008 WAC season begins August 29 with all nine teams in action. For the first time ever, the WAC Volleyball Tournament will be held in Honolulu on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i. The nine-team tournament will be held November 20-23.

 

2008 PRESEASON ALL-WAC TEAM ANNOUNCED

The WAC Preseason all-WAC volleyball team was announced on Aug. 8 as voted on by the nine coaches. Hawai‘i All-American Jamie Houston was named WAC Preseason Player of the Year. This is the fourth-straight season that a Rainbow Wahine player earned the preseason honor with former Hawai‘i All-American Kanoe Kamana`o earning the honor in 2005 and 2006. This is Houston’s second-straight honor. She is also the reigning WAC Player of the Year.

 

New Mexico State placed the most on the 12-player team with four. Along with seniors Krystal Torres and Amber Simpson, juniors Krista Altermatt and Lindsey Yon earned preseason honors. Simpson, Yon and Torres were all first-team all-WAC selections in 2007.

 

Two Hawai‘i players joined Houston on the preseason team, juniors Aneli Cubi-Otineru and Amber Kaufman. Both Houston and Cubi-Otineru were first team all-WAC selections last season. San Jose State also had two players make the team with seniors Niki Clement and Colleen Burke earning nods.

 

Chelsea Fowles of Utah State, the 2007 WAC Freshman of the Year, and Idaho’s Haley Larsen both were named to the team. Nevada sophomore Lindsay Baldwin rounded out the preseason squad. Six teams placed at least one player on the preseason all-WAC. Eight players are returning first-team all-WAC honorees.

 

VOLLEYBALL FORMAT

 For the fourth-straight year the WAC will not compete in divisions. This season’s format will be a double-round robin. Each team will face the other eight at home and on the road. All nine teams will compete in the WAC Volleyball Tournament. This is the first time that the WAC Tournament will be held in Honolulu, Hawaii.

 

HAWAI‘i TO HOST 2008 WAC VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT

The Western Athletic Conference announced, that pending board approval, New Mexico State University will host the 2007 WAC Volleyball Tournament, Nov. 15-17 at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces.

     

The 2007 Volleyball Tournament marks the third time New Mexico State has hosted a WAC Championship in the past nine months.  In March, the Aggies hosted the 2007 WAC Men’s & Women’s Basketball Championships and this April, the University Golf Course hosted the 2007 WAC Women’s Golf Championships. 

     

Throughout the week, WAC teams and fans were treated to a variety of cultural events that showcased what the state of New Mexico and the city of Las Cruces are all about, including Native American and Hispanic Culture Days.  Fans also had the chance to experience the newly-renovated Pan American Center first hand, including new concourses, concession stands, restrooms and a brand new center-hung scoreboard, which hangs above Lou Henson Court.

 

TOP STAT LEADERS

The following are the returning statistical leaders in the WAC from 2007.

In hitting efficiency, six of the top 10 hitters are back, led for the second year by New Mexico State’s Amber Simpson (.345) and San Jose State’s Colleen Burke (.373), who finished No. 2 and No. 3 in the WAC, respectively. The remaining leaders are Utah State’s Danielle Taylor (.272- seventh), Hawai‘i’s Jamie Houston (.260 - eighth), Hawai‘i’s Amber Kaufman (.259 - ninth) and Boise State’s Sadie Maughan (.256 - 10th).

       

Five of the top 10 kill leaders are back for the 2008 season. The top returner is Hawai‘i’s Jamie Houston who has been first the last two seasons, averaging 5.51 kpg. Idaho’s Haley Larsen was second averaging 5.39 kpg. Lindsey Yon of New Mexico State was seventh, averaging 3.95 kpg, while Hawai‘i’s Aneli Cubi-Otineru was ninth (3.69 kpg). The other returning leader was New Mexico State’s Krista Altermatt (3.42 - 10th).

     

Seven of the top assist leaders from last season return for the 2008 campaign. Hawai‘i’s Stephanie Brandt is the top setter to return, finishing last season first in the WAC (12.75 apg). WAC Freshman of the Year, Chelsea Fowles, of Utah State was second in assists after averaging 12.45 apg, followed by Idaho’s Kelsey James (11.71 apg - fourth) and San Jose State’s Emily Burke (11.44 apg - fifth). The remaining leaders are Boise State’s Mandy Klein (9.94 apg - seventh), New Mexico State’s Alyssa Gintant (8.40 apg - eighth) and Kasey Van Grouw (6.38 apg - 10th).

     

Only six of the top 10 blockers return, including Nevada’s Lindsay Baldwin who was first in the league, averaging 1.47 blocks per game. Idaho’s Anna McKinney finished second (1.36 bpg), followed by Utah State’s Rebecca Anderson (1.22 bpg - fifth). The remaining block returners are Idaho’s Sarah Loney (1.16 - seventh), New Mexico State’s Amber Simpson (1.14 - ninth) and Utah State’s Danielle Taylor (1.12 - 10th).

     

 Eighth of the top 10 servers also return, including four of the top five. Nevada’s Lauren Kelly finished first in the WAC in service aces per game, averaging 0.41 sapg, followed by Hawai‘i’s Stephanie Brandt (0.35 - third). New Mexico State’s Krystal Torres was tied for fourth, averaging 0.32 sapg along with Louisiana Tech’s Brittney Nakamura, followed by Boise State’s Lauren Hamm (0.30 - seventh), Fresno State’s Lisa Gera (0.30 - t-eighth) and New Mexico State’s Krista Altermatt (0.30 - t-eighth). The remaining top server is Utah State’s Jessalyn Payne (0.29 - 10th).

     

All 10 of the dig leaders return for the 2008 season. For the second-straight season New Mexico State’s Krystal Torres is the top returner (5.32 dpg - first), followed by Fresno State’s Lisa Gera (5.10 dpg - second) and Nevada’s Allison Hernandez (4.41 dpg - third), followed by Boise State’s Lauren Hamm (4.37 - fourth). The other top dig returners are Louisiana Tech’s Brittany Nakamura (3.97 - fifth), Hawai‘i’s Elizabeth Ka’aihue (3.96 - sixth), San Jose State’s Kristal Tsukano (3.95 - seventh), Utah State’s Christine Morrill (3.92 - eighth) and Idaho’s Kelsey Yonker (3.67 - ninth). The final top dig returner is Idaho’s Haley Larsen (3.44 - 10th).

 

SONNICHSEN AND NETHERBY-SEWELL JOIN THE WAC FAMILY

Louisiana Tech and Fresno State both added new head coaches this off season. Former Tulsa head coach Matt Sonnichsen become the Lady Techsters’ new head coach, while former Hofstra head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell takes the reins for the Bulldogs.

      

Sonnichsen was the head coach at Newberry College in 2007. Prior to his stay at Newberry, Sonnichsen was an assistant at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, where he coached the 2006 season under his father, Tom. Sonnichsen’s longest tenure as head coach came during his eight seasons at the helm of the University of Tulsa Hurricanes. Under his guidance, Tulsa had its first winning season in over 20 years in 2000 while finishing with 20 wins or better three separate seasons. His team finished second in the Eastern Division WAC in 2004 and earned a third place finish in C-USA in 2005.

      

In her two years at Hofstra, Netherby-Sewell led the Pride to their first-ever Colonial Athletic Association Championship in 2006 with a 17-1 conference record. That team was ranked No. 32 in the country, the highest ever ranking in school history. They also won their schools’ first NCAA Tournament game and advanced to the second round. Her overall record as a head coach is 43-19. Before being named head coach at Hofstra, Netherby-Sewell was an assistant for the Pride for two seasons, following two years as an assistant at Columbia, where she also earned her Master’s in Physical Education.

 

RETURNING ALL-WAC PLAYERS

Of the 12 first-team all-WAC players in 2007, six should return for the 2008 season, including two from Hawai‘i, Jamie Houston and Aneli Cubi-Otineru. There are three returning from New Mexico State, Amber Simpson, Krystal Torres and Lindsey Yon. Idaho’s Haley Larsen and San Jose State’s Colleen Burke also return from the first team. Six of the second-team all-WAC performers will also return this season, including San Jose State’s Niki Clement. Idaho’s Haley Larsen and Utah State’s Danielle Taylor and Melissa Osterloh also return from the second team. The other remaining second-team honorees from last season are Hawai‘i’s Stephanie Brandt and Tara Hittle.