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This Week in WAC Volleyball - Aug. 25
Courtesy: Hawai‘i
2009 SEASON OPENS WITH FIVE WAC TEAMS HOSTING TOURNAMENTS
The 2009 season opens this Friday, Aug. 28, with all nine WAC teams competing in tournament. Five of the teams - Boise State (Bronco Invitational), Fresno State (Fresno State Invitational), Hawai‘i (Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational), Louisiana Tech (Lady Techster Volleyball Tournament) and Nevada (Marriott Courtyard/Fairfield Invitational) - are hosting tournaments, while Idaho (Cal State Fullerton Tournament), New Mexico State (North Texas Tournament), San Jose State (The Invitational) and Utah State (Weber State Tournament) take to the road to start the 2009 campaign.

Boise State Broncos (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
The Broncos will be led by first-year head coach Shawn Garus, who came to Boise State from UNC-Greensboro  ... The Broncos said goodbye to seven players from last year’s roster and welcome four additions, producing a nearly new roster ... Sadie Maughan and Alisha King, the team’s top two hitters last year, return as juniors. Maughan tallied 215 kills in 2008, while King had 211 ... King and Lauren Hamm, the team’s top servers in 2008, also return. Each racked up 24 aces last season ... Maughan is the top returner in blocks, notching 104 a year ago ... Hamm returns as the team’s top digs recorder, tallying 356 last season ... Setters Breann Nesselhuf and Kirsten Duren will likely share time ... Boise State hosts the Bronco Invitational to open the season this weekend.

Fresno State Bulldogs (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
The Bulldogs are led by second-year head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell, who posted a 7-20 record a year ago ... All 10 letterwinners from the 2008 team return, while four newcomers join the team ... Fresno State also welcomes back 2007 letterwinner Lexi Watson, who missed last season due to an injury ... The team will be led by sophomores Brianna Clarke and Baylee Platt, who were named to the WAC All-Freshman team in 2008 ... Last season, Fresno State won the most matches by a Bulldog team in three years ... This will be the second season the Bulldogs have played in the newly configured Save Mart Center ... Fresno State opens the season with the Fresno State Invitational this weekend, where it will face Cal State Bakersfield, UW-Green Bay and Pacific.

Hawai‘i Rainbow Wahine (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
The Rainbow Wahine, winners of 13 consecutive WAC regular-season titles and nine-straight WAC Tournament titles, are the preseason favorite to repeat as champions ... Sophomore Kanani Danielson was named WAC Preseason Player of the Year, while four other players - seniors Aneli Cubi-Otineru and Amber Kaufman, junior Dani Mafua and sophomore Stephanie Ferrell - were also named to the preseason all-WAC team ... The Rainbow Wahine have been ranked in the AVCA Top 25 for 250 straight weeks ... Hawai‘i has led the nation in attendance for the past 14 seasons ... Danielson, Cubi-Otineru, Mafua and Kaufman all earned all-region honors a year ago, while Danielson was a third team All-American ... Hawai‘i opens the season by hosting the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational this weekend.

Idaho Vandals  (0-0, 0-0 WAC)

Idaho lost four seniors from last year’s team that finished in third place in the WAC, its highest finish since joining the league in 2005 ... Senior middle blocker Anna McKinney, who earned her first all-conference honor as second team all-WAC selection last year, will lead the team. She ranked 12th nationally in blocks per set last season with a 1.42 average ... As a team, Idaho ranked in the top 100 nationally in three statistical categories in 2008 - blocks (No. 2, 3.02), win-loss percentage (No. 79, .655) and digs (No. 84,  15.34) ... Idaho’s 11 conference wins were the most for the Vandals since joining the WAC and the most conference victories since the 1996 team finished 13-3 in the Big West ... The Vandals open the season in Fullerton, Calif., with the Crowne Plaza Titan Classic this weekend.

Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
Louisiana Tech returns six starters last season along with three other letterwinners who saw significant time on the court ... Head coach Matt Sonnichsen begins his second year at the helm ... The Techsters will be led by seniors KC Clayton, who was tops on the team in kills in 2008 (182), and Samantha Crowder, who had the highest hitting percentage (.182) on the team last year ... Louisiana Tech welcomes four junior college transfers, including Jennifer Goodwin and Lori Hunsucker, who were members of the 2008 national champion team at Blinn College ... The Techsters open the season with the Lady Techster Volleyball Tournament this weekend, hosting Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Tennessee-Martin, Centenary and South Alabama.

Nevada Wolf Pack (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
The Wolf Pack return 11 letterwinners and five starters from last year’s squad that went 12-17 overall and placed fifth in the WAC with a 7-9 mark ... Heading the list of returners is junior middle blocker Lindsay Baldwin, who earned first team all-WAC honors a year ago, and junior outside hitter Kylie Harrington, a second-team all-WAC selection last season. Both were named to the preseason all-WAC team ... Head coach Devin Scruggs enters her 13th season coaching the Wolf Pack and has posted a 201-150 career mark ... In May, the team traveled to South America to play national teams from Argentina and Chile ... Nevada opens the season by hosting the Marriott Courtyard/Fairfield Invitational this weekend, hosting Connecticut, UC Irvine and No. 26 Saint Mary’s.

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

The Aggies return four starters from last year’s team that earned its first-ever WAC regular-season title after posting a 15-1 mark in conference play ... The Aggies made it to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season and the fifth time in six years, picking up their first-ever NCAA Tournament win ... Head coach Mike Jordan was named 2008 WAC Coach of the Year ... The Aggies lost All-American Krystal Torres and All-West Region players Amber Simpson and Lindsey Yon to graduation ... NM State has not had a losing season since 2000 ... The Aggies ranked 15th in the nation for attendance last season with an average home attendance of 1,634 over 14 matches ... New Mexico State opens the season at the Mean Green Classic this weekend, where it will face SMU, Northern Colorado and North Texas.

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

San Jose State returns three starters and six letterwinners from last year’s team that finished 13-18 overall and 7-9 in the WAC ... The team advanced to the semifinals of the WAC Tournament for the third consecutive year ... The Spartans have eight newcomers ... Head coach Oscar Crespo returns for his third season at the helm of the Spartans ... Junior Brianna Amian returns after earning second team all-WAC honors last year when she averaged 2.45 kills, 1.57 digs and 0.51 blocks per set ... Kristal Tsukano, only the sixth Spartan in school history to record 1,000 or more career digs, enters the season with 1,037 digs and needs just two to move into fifth place and 15 to move into third place on the San Jose State career dig list ... The Spartans open the season this weekend at The Invitational, where they will face No. 4 Washington, San Diego State and Seattle.

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

Utah State returns six starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s team that went 11-17 overall and 9-7 in the WAC, good for fourth place ... Among those returning are setter Chelsea Fowles, middle blocker Katie Astle and libero Christine Morrill, all of whom earned second team all-WAC honors in 2008, along with sophomore outside hitter Emily Kortsen, who was named to the WAC all-freshman team ... USU also returns junior middle blocker Danielle Taylor, who redshirted last year after earning second-team all-WAC honors in 2007 ... Fowles and Morrill were named to the preseason all-WAC team. Fowles was one of two setters on the team, while Morrill was the only libero ... Utah State opens the season at the Best Western Canyon Pines Weber State Invitational, where it will face Weber State, Gonzaga and Utah Valley.

HAWAI‘I FAVORED IN WAC PRESEASON POLL
Hawai‘i, which shared the regular-season crown with New Mexico State a year ago, has been selected in a poll by the league’s coaches to defend its crown in 2009 and take home its 14th-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. Utah State was picked to finish third with 45 points, followed by Idaho in fourth with 41 points. Nevada was picked fifth with 37 points, while Fresno State was selected sixth with 29 points, just ahead of San Jose State with 28 points in seventh place. Boise State and Louisiana Tech rounded out the poll with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Hawai‘i is coming off a 31-4 season in 2008 that saw the Rainbow Wahine earn their 13th-consecutive WAC regular-season title with a 15-1 record. Hawai‘i also captured its ninth WAC Tournament title. Both Hawai‘i and New Mexico State advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season. The Rainbow Wahine advanced to the Elite Eight, while the Aggies picked up their first-ever win in the first round.

PRESEASON ALL-WAC

Hawai‘i sophomore Kanani Danielson was named WAC Preseason Player of the Year. This is the fifth-straight season that a Rainbow Wahine player has earned the preseason honor with All-Americans Kanoe Kamana`o (2005, 2006) and Jamie Houston (2007, 2008) each earning the honor in back-to-back years.

Hawai‘i placed the most student-athletes on the 12-player team with five. Along with Danielson, seniors Aneli Cubi-Otineru and Amber Kaufman, junior Dani Mafua and sophomore Stephanie Ferrell earned preseason honors. Cubi-Otineru and Kaufman were all first-team all-WAC selections in 2008, while Mafua was a second-team pick and Ferrell was on the All-Freshman Team.

Nevada placed two players on the preseason team in juniors Lindsay Baldwin and Kylie Harrington, as did New Mexico State with seniors Krista Altermatt and Kelli Goodan. Utah State also had two selections in juniors Chelsea Fowles and Christine Morrill. Senior Anna McKinney of Idaho rounded out the preseason squad.

Hawai‘i Ranked No. 7 in National Preseason Poll
Hawai‘i was ranked No. 7 in the preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I Coaches Poll. Meanwhile, New Mexico State received votes in the poll.

The Rainbow Wahine received 1,036 points from the 65 coaches that vote on the poll. Last season, Hawai‘i finished ranked No. 7 in the final AVCA poll, posting a 31-4 record and advancing to the NCAA Regional Final. Six of Hawai‘i’s first nine opponents are ranked in the Top 25, and three other opponents are receiving votes.

The Aggies face two teams ranked in the Top 25, including No. 10 Illinois in non-conference play. New Mexico State also plays Wisconsin, which is receiving votes in the poll.

RETURNING ALL-WAC PLAYERS

Of the 12 first-team all-WAC players in 2008, five should return for the 2009 season, including three from Hawai‘i, Aneli Cubi-Otineru, Kanani Danielson and Amber Kaufman. Krista Altermatt  of New Mexico State and Lindsay Baldwin of Nevada also return from the first team. Eight of the second-team all-WAC performers return this season, including Katie Astle, Chelsea Fowles and Christine Morrill of Utah State. The other returning second-team honorees are Brianna Amian of San Jose State, Kylie Harrington of Nevada, Dani Mafua of Hawai‘i, Sadie Maughan of Boise State and Anna McKinney of Idaho.

TOP STAT LEADERS
The following are the returning statistical leaders in the WAC from the 2008 season.

In hitting efficiency, seven of the top 10 hitters are back, led by Hawai‘i’s Amber Kaufman (.380), who led the league a year ago. Teammate Stephanie Ferrell (.292), who ranked fifth last year, also returns. The remaining leaders are Idaho’s Anna McKinney (.287- sixth), Hawai‘i’s Kanani Danielson (.286 - seventh), Boise State’s Sadie Maughan (.275 - eighth), Utah State’s Katie Astle (.275 - ninth) and Hawai‘i’s Aneli Cubi-Otineru (.268 - 10th).

Four of the top 10 kill leaders are back for the 2009 season. The top returner is Fresno State’s Baylee Platt, who ranked sixth last year with 3.46 kills per set. Danielson was seventh, averaging 3.02 kps. Kylie Harrington of Nevada was eighth, averaging 2.90 kps, while Fresno State’s Brianna Clarke rounds out the returning leaders in ninth place with 2.87 kps.

Six of the top assist leaders from last season return for the 2009 campaign. Hawai‘i’s Dani Mafua is the top setter to return, finishing last season first in the WAC (11.20 aps). Chelsea Fowles of Utah State was third in assists, averaging 9.49 aps, followed by Fresno State’s Allanah Munson (9.43 - fourth). The remaining leaders are Nevada’s Sonnie Sei (8.90 - sixth) and Louisiana Tech’s Bianca Bin (7.24 - eighth).

Six of the top blockers return, led by Idaho’s McKinney, who was first with 1.42 blocks per set. Nevada’s Lindsay Baldwin was fourth, averaging 1.14 blocks per set, followed by New Mexico State’s Erin Birmingham (1.06 bps - fifth). The remaining block returners are Idaho’s Debbie Pederson (1.05 - sixth), Louisiana Tech’s KC Clayton (1.05 - seventh) and Boise State’s Maughan (1.04 - eighth).

Six of the top 10 servers return, including the top two. Hawai‘i’s Kaufman led the WAC in service aces per set, averaging 0.47, followed by teammate Cubi-Otineru (0.32 - second). Fresno State’s Kasey Van Grouw was sixth, averaging 0.27 saps, followed by Nevada’s Nicole Link (0.26 - seventh) and Lauren Kelly (0.26 - eighth). The remaining top server is Utah State’s Lori Wilson (0.26 - 10th).

Five of the 10 dig leaders return for the 2009 season. Utah State’s Christine Morrill is the top returner (3.79 dps - fourth), followed by Nevada’s Link (3.57 - fifth) and Boise State’s Lauren Hamm (3.49 - sixth). Rounding out the group are San Jose State’s Kristal Tsukano (3.28 - seventh) and Hawai‘i’s Danielson (2.91 - 10th).

2009 WAC TOURNAMENT TO BE HELD IN LAS VEGAS

Last April, the Western Athletic Conference announced that the 2009 WAC Volleyball Tournament would be held at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

The 2009 WAC Volleyball Tournament will be held Nov. 23-25 and will include the top six teams in the regular-season standings. The championship match will be televised live on ESPNU.

All-session tickets are $45 and can be purchased over the phone (888-234-2334) or online (www.orleansarena.com/event-calendar/wac-volleyball-tournament).

The WAC Tournament was played at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas from 1996-98 when UNLV was a member of the WAC.

Two different teams – Hawai‘i and Brigham Young – have claimed the WAC Tournament title in the event’s 11 years. The Rainbow Wahine own the most titles with nine, including the last eight in a row.

The WAC Volleyball Tournament is a single-elimination event with the top two seeds receiving first-round byes and the champion earning the conference’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

2009 WAC TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Monday, Nov. 23 (Quarterfinals)
No. 3 Seed vs. No. 6 Seed    5 p.m.   
No. 4 Seed vs. No. 5 Seed    7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov 24 (Semifinals)
Winner Match 1 vs. No. 2 seed    5 p.m.   
Winner Match 2 vs. No. 1 Seed    7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 25 (Championship)
Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4    6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

*times local and subject to change

REGIONAL, SEMIFINAL/CHAMPIONSHIP SITES SELECTED
The NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee announced the following sites for regional and semifinal/championship competition of the 2009 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championships.

Regionals (4): Dec. 11-12, 2009

Host: University of Florida
Stephen C. O’Connell Center
Gainesville, Fla.

Host: University of Minnesota
Sports Pavilion
Minneapolis, Minn.

Host: University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Qwest Center
Omaha, Neb.

Host: Stanford University
Maples Pavilion
Stanford, Calif.

Semifinals and Championship: Dec. 17 and 19, 2009
Co-Hosts: University of South Florida and Tampa Bay Sports Commission
St. Pete Times Forum
Tampa Bay, Fla.

A LOOK BACK AT 2008
FIVE WAC PLAYERS EARN ALL-AMERICA HONORS

Five WAC volleyball players earned All-America honors by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). Hawai‘i outside hitter Jamie Houston was a second-team honoree, while teammate Kanani Danielson was a third-team selection. Meanwhile, the Rainbow Wahine’s Aneli Cubi-Otineru and Dani Mafua, and New Mexico State’s Krystal Torres were honorable mention honorees.

Houston earns second-team honors after leading her team to the NCAA Regional Finals. She averaged 4.05 kills, 1.78 digs and 0.75 blocks per set and posted 10 or more kills in 25 matches this season. She posted five double-doubles on the season, was named to three all-tournament teams and was MVP of two. This is Houston’s second time to be honored as an All-American, as she was a third-team selection as a sophomore.

One of just two freshmen on the All-America teams, Danielson averaged 3.02 kills and 2.91 digs per set. The West Region Freshman of the Year, she ranked seventh in the WAC in both hitting percentage and kills, and ninth in digs. Danielson had a team-best eight double-doubles and was named to three all-tournament teams during her rookie campaign.

Cubi-Otineru averaged 2.41 kills and 2.27 digs per set. She ranked second in the WAC with 0.32 service aces per set and 10th with a .268 hitting percentage. She had five double-doubles on the season.

Mafua led the WAC with 11.20 assists per set and guided the Rainbow Wahine to a .283 hitting percentage on the season. She had 30 or more assists in 21 matches this season, 40 or more assists in 12 matches and 50 or more assists in six matches.

Torres led the Aggies to their first-ever NCAA Tournament win with 4.41 digs per set. She had 10 or more digs in 32 of 34 matches and had 20 or more digs seven times.

NINE WAC PLAYERS EARN ALL-REGION HONORS

Hawai‘i’s Aneli Cubi-Otineru, Jamie Houston and Dani Mafua, and New Mexico State’s Krystal Torres were named to the AVCA All-West Region team. In addition, Hawai‘i’s Kanani Danielson was named West Region Freshman of the Year and was an All-West Region honorable mention honoree. Joining her as honorable mention selections were Amber Kaufman of Hawai‘i, and Amber Simpson and Lindsey Yon of New Mexico State.

HAWAI‘I FALLS IN NCAA REGIONAL FINAL
After defeating Purdue in the Sweet 16, the Rainbow Wahine advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals, where they fell to No. 2 Stanford in three sets. Jamie Houston and Kanani Danielson were named to the all-tournament team. Houston averaged 4.00 kills and 1.14 digs, while Danielson averaged 4.14 kills and 2.14 digs over the two matches. It was the third trip to the NCAA Regional Finals for Hawai‘i in the past six seasons.

NMSU EARNS FIRST-EVER NCAA TOURNAMENT WIN
For the first time in program history, New Mexico State advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament with a 3-1 win (22-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-15) over Saint Mary’s at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. The following day, the Aggies fell in four sets to No. 8 California, ending their season. The Aggies are now 1-5 overall in NCAA Tournament matches.

HOUSTON RECORDS 2,000TH CAREER KILL
Hawai‘i’s Jamie Houston became just the second player in UH history to reach the 2,000-kill milestone. She picked up her 2,000th kill to end the first set of the win over Cal Poly on Nov. 28, and closed out her career with 2,061.

HOUSTON, TORRES, SIMPSON IN WAC RECORD BOOKS
With 2,061 career kills, UH’s Jamie Houston ranks second in the WAC record books behind the Rainbow Wahine’s Kim Willoughby (2000-03), who finished her career with 2,598 kills. New Mexico State’s Krystal Torres ended her career with 1,942 career digs, good for second place all-time in the WAC record books behind San Jose State’s Jessie Shull (2003-06) with 2,260. Teammate Amber Simpson closed out her career as an Aggie with 574 total blocks, good for third place in the WAC annals.

HAWAI’I WINS 2008 WAC VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
After sweeping past Boise State and Idaho, Hawai‘i defeated New Mexico State 25-19, 25-27, 25-18, 25-9 in front of a crowd of 5,250 in the championship match of the WAC Tournament to claim its ninth-straight title. Jamie Houston took tournament MVP honors, hitting .341 with 22 kills, 11 digs and three blocks in the championship match. With the win, Hawai‘i earned the WAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

All-Tournament Team
Stephanie Brandt, Hawaii
Colleen Burke, San Jose State
Aneli Cubi-Otineru, Hawaii
Jamie Houston, Hawaii
Haley Larsen, Idaho
Amber Simpson, New Mexico State
Krystal Torres, New Mexico State
Lindsey Yon, New Mexico State

MVP: Jamie Houston, Hawaii

NEW MEXICO STATE, HAWAI‘I SHARE REGULAR-SEASON TITLE
New Mexico State and Hawai‘i shared the 2008 WAC regular-season title. It is the first-ever title for the Aggies and the 13th straight for the Rainbow Wahine. This is the first time there has been a tie at the top of the standings since 1998, when Hawai‘i and BYU were the Pacific Division co-champions with 13-1 marks.

UH RANKS IN TOP 10 NATIONALLY IN FOUR CATEGORIES
In the final NCAA statistics, the Rainbow Wahine ranked fourth in the nation in assists per set (13.71) and won-loss percentage (.886), fifth in kills per set (14.66) and ninth in hitting percentage (.283). Meanwhile, Idaho ranked second nationally in blocks per set (3.02).

WAC PLAYERS IN TOP 50 IN KILLS, BLOCKS
Two WAC players finished the season ranked in the Top 50 nationally in kills per set – Haley Larsen, Idaho, 11th (4.44) and Jamie Houston, Hawai‘i, 34th (4.05). In blocks per set, three WAC players appeared in the Top 50, led by Idaho’s Anna McKinney in 12th place with a 1.42 average. Amber Simpson of New Mexico State was 27th with 1.29 per set and Lydia Blaha of Boise State was 44th with a 1.16 average.
Volleyball
WAC
Overall
Grand Canyon
1-0
11-3
Missouri-Kansas City
0-0
11-3
New Mexico State
0-0
6-5
Utah Valley
0-0
5-9
Seattle U
0-0
4-8
Bakersfield
0-0
4-9
Texas-Pan American
0-0
2-11
Chicago State
0-1
6-9
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Grand Canyon -
UMKC -
New Mexico State -
Seattle U -
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