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This Week in WAC Volleyball - Sept. 29
Courtesy: Hawai‘i
New Mexico State junior outside hitter Kayleigh Giddens has been named Western Athletic Conference Volleyball Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 21-27. It is the first-ever WAC Player of the Week honor for Giddens.

The Lubbock, Texas native tallied 47 kills, 33 digs, three blocks and three service aces as the Aggies went 3-0 on the week. Giddens averaged 4.73 points, 4.27 kills, 3.00 digs and 0.27 service aces, all well above her season averages, and posted the first two double-doubles of her career. In a win over Interstate 10 rival UTEP, Giddens posted a match-high 14 kills and a career-high 14 digs for her first career double-double. She followed that up with a match-high 14 kills in a sweep of Utah State to open WAC play. Giddens finished the week with her second career double-double, posting 19 kills and 13 digs in a four-set win at Louisiana Tech.

Other nominees included: Sadie Maughan of Boise State tallied a career-high 20 kills as the Broncos picked up their first win of the season ... Fresno State's Baylee Platt tallied a double-double - a season-high 21 kills and 10 digs - in the Bulldogs' loss to Nevada ... Dani Mafua of Hawai'i averaged 11.33 assists, 1.00 kills, 1.33 digs and 1.00 blocks per set as the Rainbow Wahine moved their win streak to seven ... Idaho's Sarah Conwell nearly tallied a triple-double (19 kills, 20 digs and seven blocks) in a win over San Jose State ... Nataliya Panova of Louisiana Tech tallied 34 kills and 39 digs in three matches last week, including a win over Utah State, the Lady Techsters' first WAC win since the 2007 season ... Nevada's Kylie Harrington posted career highs of 22 kills and 20 digs in a win over Fresno State ... Kylie Miraldi of San Jose State tallied a career-high seven blocks against Idaho and hit .611 vs. Boise State.

For the third straight week, Hawai'i is ranked No. 4 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) national poll. It is the fourth time this season the Rainbow Wahine have been ranked fourth, the team's highest ranking since the 2005 preseason poll.

Five WAC players rank in the Top 50 nationally in blocks per set, led by Hawai'i's Brittany Hewitt, who leads the nation with a 1.62 average. Idaho's Anna McKinney and Debbie Pederson are sixth and 15th, respectively, with 1.51 and 1.40 averages. Fresno State's Brianna Clarke is 23rd (1.34) and Sadie Maughan of Boise State is 48th (1.21).

Hawai'i has several players in the Top 50 in other statistical categories. Amber Kaufman is seventh in hitting percentage (.433), Aneli Cubi-Otineru ranks eighth in service aces per set (0.61) and Dani Mafua is 17th in assists per set (11.48).

Six WAC teams rank in the Top 50 in blocks per set, led by Idaho in second place (3.18). Hawai'i (22nd, 2.64), Fresno State (26th, 2.61), New Mexico State (32nd, 2.54), Utah State (40th, 2.46) and Louisiana Tech (47th, 2.39) are also ranked. The Rainbow Wahine are also fifth in hitting percentage (.299), 15th in kills (14.2), 21st in assists (13.07) and 37th in aces (1.7).

Hawai'i head coach Dave Shoji currently has 995 career victories and is primed to become just the fourth women's volleyball coach ever and only the second Division I coach to reach 1,000 wins. At the Division I level, Shoji trails only UCLA's Andy Banachowski (1,092) in victories. Shoji has led his team to 14 consecutive conference titles and appearances in 10 of the last 11 NCAA regionals.

When it hosts Fresno State this Saturday, Oct. 3, Idaho will be the second-to-last team in the nation to play a home match this season. Currently, 10 teams have yet to play at home in 2009, but eight of the 10 will do so by Friday. The only team to play its first home match after the Vandals is Stony Brook.

Alcorn State Oct. 1
Arkansas-Little Rock Oct. 2
UCLA Oct. 2
UC Riverside Oct. 2
Central Michigan Oct. 2
Florida Atlantic Oct. 2
George Washington Oct. 2
Presbyterian Oct. 2
Idaho Oct. 3
Stony Brook Oct. 11

The Rainbow Wahine currently lead the nation in attendance with an average of 6,227 fans per match, ahead of Nebraska's 5,728 average. In addition, all 13 of Hawai'i's home matches this season rank in the Top 25 highest attended for the year, including seven of the Top 10.

New Mexico State ranks 24th nationally with a 1,612 average, while Fresno State is 34th (1,048).

The Broncos fell at No. 4 Hawai'i (21-25, 14-25, 14-25) on Thursday before coming from down two sets to defeat San Jose State (17-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-21, 15-13) on Saturday for their first win of the season ... The win snapped a 13-match losing skid for Boise State ... Sadie Maughan tallied a career-high 20 kills on .459 hitting to go along with a team-high seven blocks in the win over the Spartans ... setter Breann Nesselhuf matched her career high with 40 assists in the victory ... As a team, the Broncos posted season highs in kills (54), hitting percentage (.240), assists (50), service aces (8) and points (72.0) in the win over San Jose State ... Boise State is 7-38 in total sets this season ... The Broncos host Fresno State on Thursday before playing at Utah State on Saturday.

The Bulldogs went 0-1 last week, falling at Nevada (23-25, 25-21, 23-25, 24-26) in their only match of the week ... Baylee Platt posted a double-double - a season-high 21 kills and 10 digs - to lead Fresno State ... Platt was one of three Fresno State players to tally double-digit kills, as Kelly Leonardo had 11 and Brianna Clarke finished with 10 ... Allanah Munson posted her third double-double of the season, posting 25 assists and 10 digs ... Kelly Mason led the team with 19 digs ... The Bulldogs have out-blocked their opponents in 10 of 13 matches this season ... As a team, Fresno State ranks 26th nationally with 2.61 blocks per set, while Clarke ranks 23rd with a 1.34 average ... The Bulldogs play at Boise State on Thursday and at Idaho on Saturday.

The Rainbow Wahine opened WAC play with a pair of sweeps over Boise State (25-21, 25-14, 25-14) and Idaho (25-13, 25-11, 25-19) ... Hawai'i has now won seven straight matches and 21 consecutive sets ... Dani Mafua tied her career highs of four kills, a 1.000 hitting percentage and five blocks against Idaho ... Mafua spread the offense around, with six players - Alexis Forsythe (5.00), Aneli Cubi-Otineru (4.00), Stephanie Brandt (3.83), Kanani Danielson (2.33), Brittany Hewitt (2.00) and Amber Kaufman (2.00) - averaging two or more kills per set over the two matches ... Head coach Dave Shoji is five wins shy of 1,000 on his career and looks to become just the second Division I coach to surpass 1,000 career wins ... The Rainbow Wahine play their first road matches of the season at Louisiana Tech on Thursday and at New Mexico State on Saturday.

The Vandals went 1-1 on the road last week, defeating San Jose State (25-13, 23-25, 25-23, 25-20) before falling at No. 4 Hawai'i (13-25, 11-25, 19-25) ... The win over the Spartans snapped a six-match losing skid for the Vandals ... Sarah Conwell nearly tallied a triple-double in the win over San Jose State, finishing with 19 kills and career highs of 20 digs and seven blocks ... The Vandals out-blocked the Spartans 17-8, and the team's 30 block assists tie for 10th all-time in Idaho single-match history ... Idaho plays at Eastern Washington on Wednesday before hosting Fresno State on Saturday ... It will be the Vandals' first home match of the season, making them the second-to-last team in the nation to play a home match this season. The only team to play its first home match after the Vandals is Stony Brook.

The Lady Techsters went 2-1 last week, defeating McNeese State (8-25, 25-22, 27-25, 25-22) and Utah State (25-22, 26-24, 22-25, 20-25, 15-6) before falling in four sets to New Mexico State (25-19, 22-25, 14-25, 21-25) ... The win over Utah State was Tech's first WAC victory since Sept. 29, 2007 (26 matches), and its first-ever win in a WAC opener ... In the win over McNeese State, Kara Jones had 10 kills and six blocks ... Nataliya Panova recorded her sixth double-double of the season vs. Utah State with 14 kills and a career-high 22 digs ... In the loss to the Aggies, Kassia Pinto was just shy of a double-double, finishing with 13 kills and nine digs ... Libero Lori Hunsucker has recorded double-digit digs in nine straight matches ... The Techsters host Hawai'i on Thursday and Nevada on Saturday.

The Wolf Pack went 1-1 last week, falling at Sacramento State (15-25, 13-25, 15-25) last Tuesday before defeating Fresno State (25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 26-24) on Saturday ... Three Pack players posted double-doubles in the Fresno State match - Kylie Harrington (22 kills, 20 digs), Elissa Ji (15 kills, 14 digs and Lindsay Baldwin (10 kills, 10 blocks). Harrington and Ji's were career highs in both categories ... Nevada's 3-1 win over Fresno State was the ninth consecutive WAC opening victory for the Pack and the team is now 9-1 in WAC openers since joining the conference in 2000 ... Harrington has led the Pack in kills in 12 of 14 matches this season and posted double figures in 12 matches ... The Wolf Pack play at New Mexico State on Thursday and at Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

The Aggies went 3-0 last week, defeating UTEP (25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 25-19), Utah State (25-22, 26-24, 25-20) and Louisiana Tech (19-25, 25-22, 25-14, 25-21) ... Kayleigh Giddens posted her first career double-doubles at UTEP (14 kills, 14 digs) and Louisiana Tech (19 kills, 13 digs) ... Libero Kelsi Phillips posted a match-high 17 digs in the win over Utah State ... Whitney Woods tallied a career-high 22 kills on .576 hitting vs. Louisiana Tech ... As a team, NM State hit .261 over the three matches, while opponents hit just .146 ... The Aggies opened WAC play with a 2-0 start for the third consecutive season ... New Mexico State currently ranks 32nd nationally in blocks per set (2.54) and 50th in kills per set (13.40) ... The Aggies host Nevada on Thursday and Hawai'i on Saturday.

The Spartans opened WAC play 0-2, falling to Idaho (13-25, 25-23, 23-25, 20-25) and Boise State (25-17, 25-22, 20-25, 21-25, 13-15) ... Against Idaho, Kylie Miraldi led the Spartans with 10 kills and a career-best seven block assists ... As a team, San Jose State posted season highs of eight blocks and 69 digs vs. the Vandals ... In the loss to the Broncos, four Spartans recorded double-digit kills - Taylor Japhet (16), Kristal Tsukano (14), Miraldi (13) and Alex Akana (12) ... Tsukano also had 13 digs for her second career double-double, while Miraldi hit .611 ... Caitlin Andrade had a career-best 49 assists to go with 11 digs for her second career double-double ... SJSU had team season highs of 62 kills, 58 assists and 12 service aces vs. the Broncos ... The Spartans play at Utah State on Thursday in their only match this week.

The Aggies went 0-2 to open WAC play, falling at New Mexico State (22-25, 24-26, 20-25) and at Louisiana Tech (22-25, 24-26, 25-22, 25-20, 6-15) ... Against NM State, Lori Wilson-Beckstrom had a team-high seven kills and tied her career-high with five blocks ... Liz McArthur recorded a career-high 24 kills and tied her career high with 12 digs at Louisiana Tech. It was her first double-double of the season and second of her career ... Katie Astle recorded a career-high 12 kills at Louisiana Tech ... Chelsea Fowles ranks fourth all-time at Utah State with 2,731 assists, 78 shy of tying Chelsi Neves for third-place ... Christine Morrill ranks fourth all-time at Utah State with 988 career digs, 37 away from third-place ... The Aggies host San Jose State on Thursday and Boise State on Saturday.

Hawai'i's victory over Stanford on Sept. 12 was the program's 1,000th win since it began playing a Division I schedule in 1974. The Rainbow Wahine have won four national titles in that span and participated in 27 NCAA Tournaments.

Hawai'i was 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 NM State with 57. Utah State was picked to finish third (45), followed by Idaho in fourth (41). Nevada was picked fifth (37), while Fresno State was sixth (29), just ahead of San Jose State (28). Boise State (12) and Louisiana Tech (11) rounded out the poll.

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.

The 2009 WAC Volleyball Tournament will be held Nov. 23-25, at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas 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).

Fans traveling to Las Vegas are encouraged to stay at the Orleans Hotel and Casino. Rates are $90 per night Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20-21, and $35 per night Sunday-Wednesday, Nov. 22-25, single or double occupancy, plus room tax and Resort Fee. For reservations, please call (800) 657-3267 and request WAC Volleyball Championship Fan Block or Group Code 9WACC11.

Hawai'i and Brigham Young are the only teams to 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.


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

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.

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 dig leaders return in 2009. 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).

Shawn Garus was named head coach at Boise State on June 30, becoming the ninth head coach in program history. He came from UNC-Greensboro, where he was head coach for the previous four seasons. There he recorded three straight winning seasons with 20 or more victories while also leading his team to the Southern Conference finals twice. Garus also produced five all-SoCon players and 13 SoCon All-Academic honorees in his four-year tenure.

Prior to UNCG, Garus served as the top assistant at San Francisco, and also spent time as an assistant at Texas Tech in 2002, helping the Red Raiders to a 14-14 record.

His first collegiate head coaching experience came from 1998-2002 at UC-Colorado Springs. During his time there, he led his team to its best school record of 22-9 in 2001 and first ever postseason appearance, as well as a regional ranking of No. 6.

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/Tampa Bay Sports Commission
St. Pete Times Forum
Tampa Bay, Fla.
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