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This Week in WAC Volleyball - Oct. 27
Courtesy: Idaho
Idaho senior outside hitter Sarah Conwell has been named the Verizon Wireless Western Athletic Conference Volleyball Player of the Week for the week of Oct. 19-25. This is the third WAC Player of the Week honor of the season for Conwell and the third of her career.

The Kent, Wash. (Kentwood HS), native tallied 56 kills, 38 digs and 12 blocks as Idaho went 3-0 in WAC matches last week to remain in third place in the conference standings. Conwell averaged 5.09 kills, 3.45 digs and 1.09 blocks per set and tallied double-doubles in all three matches to move her season total to a WAC-best 10. She opened the week just shy of a triple-double, posting career highs of 28 kills and eight blocks to go along with 14 digs in a five-set win over Utah State. Conwell followed that up with 13 kills, 11 digs and three blocks in a sweep of Fresno State. In final match of the week, a sweep of Utah State, she posted 15 kills and 13 digs.

Other nominees included: Alisha Young of Boise State averaged 4.83 kills on .419 hitting as the Broncos earned their first two sweeps of the season … Fresno State’s Brianna Clarke led the Bulldogs with 19 kills on .368 hitting … Amber Kaufman of Hawai’i averaged 4.00 kills on .789 hitting as the Rainbow Wahine went 2-0 on the week … Louisiana Tech’s Nataliya Panova recorded her seventh double-double of the season as Tech went 2-1 last week … Kayleigh Giddens  of New Mexico State averaged a WAC-best 5.86 kills to go with 2.57 digs as the Aggies went 2-0 on the week.

Hawai’i head coach Dave Shoji became just the fourth women’s volleyball coach ever and only the second Division I coach to reach 1,000 wins when his team defeated New Mexico State in four sets on Oct. 17. At the Division I level, Shoji trails only UCLA’s Andy Banachowski (1,084) in victories. Shoji has led his team to 14 consecutive conference titles and appearances in 10 of the last 11 NCAA regionals.

Idaho defeated Utah State in five sets (24-26, 25-21, 24-26, 25-22, 15-9) last Monday, while New Mexico State swept Fresno State (25-22, 25-20, 25-21) last Thursday in the first two ESPNU broadcasts this season. The remaining WAC ESPNU schedule this season is as follows:

Thursday, Oct. 29    Hawai’i at Fresno State    8:30 p.m. (PT)
Wednesday, Nov. 25    WAC Tournament Championship Match    6:30 p.m. (PT)

For the third-consecutive week, Hawai’i is ranked No. 3 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) national poll. It is the highest ranking for the Rainbow Wahine since Dec. 6, 2004, when Hawai’i was No. 2. The Rainbow Wahine currently come in at 22nd in the RPI.

As a team, Idaho currently leads the nation with 3.19 blocks per set. The Vandals are one of four WAC teams ranked in the Top 50 as New Mexico State (24th, 2.64), Hawai’i (26th, 2.60) and Utah State (50th, 2.38) are also ranked.

In other statistics, the Rainbow Wahine are fourth in hitting percentage (.306), eighth in winning percentage (.900), 16th in service aces (1.78), and 18th in both kills (14.18) and assists (13.15).

Five WAC players rank in the Top 50 nationally in blocks per set, led by Idaho’s Debbie Pederson in eighth place with a 1.46 average. Hawai’i’s Brittany Hewitt and Idaho’s Anna McKinney are 11th and 12th with a 1.44 average. Fresno State’s Brianna Clarke is in 21st with a 1.33 average, while Kelsey Brennan of New Mexico State rounds out the group in 34th place (1.27).

Hawai’i has several players in the Top 50 in other statistical categories. Amber Kaufman is fourth in hitting percentage (.456). Aneli Cubi-Otineru ranks fourth in service aces per set (0.61), while Dani Mafua is 13th in assists per set (11.54). Meanwhile, Brittany Hewitt is 34th in hitting percentage (.375).

The Rainbow Wahine currently lead the nation in attendance with an average of 6,360 fans per match, ahead of Nebraska’s 5,077 average. In addition, all 18 of Hawai’i’s home matches this season rank in the Top 30 highest attended for the year, including six of the Top 10.

New Mexico State ranks 18th nationally with a 1,836 average, while Fresno State is 23rd (1,567), Utah State is 45th (955) and Idaho is 50th (898).

The Broncos defeated Utah State (25-19, 25-22, 25-22) on Thursday and Nevada (25-13, 25-23, 26-24) on Saturday for their first two sweeps of the season ... Alisha Young had a match-high 12 kills in the win over Utah State ... Young posted a career-high .536 hitting percentage with 17 kills against Nevada ... As a team, Boise State posted a season-high .267 hitting percentage vs. the Wolf Pack ... The win over Nevada marked the third straight home win for the Broncos ... Boise State currently ranks fourth in the WAC with 13.77 digs per set ... Sadie Maughan currently ranks fourth in the Boise State record books in career points with 731 ... Young ranks sixth in the same category with 669.5 ... Hamm ranks 10th in career digs (979) ... The Broncos host Louisiana Tech on Saturday for their only match this week.

The Bulldogs were swept by New Mexico State (22-25, 20-25, 21-25) on Thursday in a nationally-televised match and fell in straight sets at Louisiana Tech (16-25, 16-25, 20-25) on Saturday ... Brianna Clarke had a team-high nine kills and six blocks against NM State ... Clarke then had a match-high 10 kills at LA Tech ... In the match vs. the Techsters, Fresno State hit .065 as a team, its second-lowest hitting percentage of the season ... It was also the first match all season that the Bulldogs didn’t tally a service ace ... Kelly Leonardo ranks sixth in the Fresno State career record books in block assists (266) and total blocks (318) ... Allanah Munson is 10th in total assists (1,529) ... The Bulldogs host No. 3 Hawai’i in a nationally-televised match on ESPNU this Thursday and host San Jose State on Saturday.

The Rainbow Wahine swept Louisiana Tech (25-12, 25-8, 25-17) last Monday and Division II BYU-Hawai’i (25-14, 25-11, 25-17) on Friday ... Against the Techsters, Kanani Danielson posted her fourth double-double of the season and second in a row, finishing with 11 kills and 10 digs ... Amber Kaufman had eight kills on eight attempts with zero errors for a career-high 1.000 hitting percentage ... Kaufman also hit .636 with eight kills in two sets against BYU-Hawai’i ... Danielson finished with a match-high 11 kills, while Stephanie Ferrell had 10 ... The Rainbow Wahine have won 14 straight matches and are a perfect 8-0 in WAC play ... Hawai’i is currently riding a 17-match conference winning streak, dating back to Oct. 12, 2008, when it fell to NM State ... The Rainbow Wahine play at Fresno State on national television on Thursday and at Nevada on Saturday.

IDAHO VANDALS (11-11, 7-3 WAC)
The Vandals went 3-0 last week, defeating Utah State in five sets (24-26, 25-21, 24-26, 25-22, 15-9) on ESPNU last Monday, before sweeping Nevada (25-21, 25-16, 25-17) on Thursday and Utah State (26-24, 25-19, 25-19) on Saturday ... In the five-set win over the Aggies, Sarah Conwell was just shy of a triple-double, finishing with a career-high 28 kills, 14 digs and a career-high eight blocks ... She also posted double-doubles in the other two wins, finishing with 13 kills and 11 digs against Nevada, and posting 15 kills and 13 digs in the sweep of the Aggies ... Conwell has posted double-digit digs in eight of last nine matches and double-digit kills in four consecutive matches ... Idaho has out-blocked its opponents 53.5 to 16 over the past four matches ... The Vandals host Gonzaga for a non-conference match on Tuesday and host New Mexico State on Thursday.

The Lady Techsters fell in three sets at Hawai’i (12-25, 8-25, 17-25) last Monday before defeating San Jose State (25-17, 20-25, 25-14, 25-21) last Thursday and Fresno State (25-16, 25-16, 25-20) on Saturday ... The team posted season lows in hitting percentage (-.032), kills (16) and assists (16) at Hawai’i ... Nataliya Panova recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 14 kills and 14 digs in the win over SJSU ... With four WAC wins, Tech has tied the school record for WAC wins in a season and has tied the team’s combined WAC win total over the past five years ... The Techsters have also posted their first-ever wins over Nevada, San Jose State and Utah State  ... Kara Jones has a WAC-best 27 solo blocks this season ... The Techsters play at Utah State on Thursday and at Boise State on Saturday.

The Wolf Pack fell at Idaho (21-25, 16-25, 17-25) on Thursday and at Boise State (13-25, 23-25, 24-26) on Saturday ... Kylie Harrington led the team with 15 kills vs. Idaho and 10 at Boise State ... Harrington has led or tied for the team lead in kills in 17 of 22 matches ... Lindsay Baldwin needs three kills for 700 in her career ... Harrington recorded her 700th career kill and 800th career point at Boise State ... Nicole Link recorded her 900th career dig vs. the Broncos ... Nevada is 5-0 this season in five-set matches and 0-11 in three-set matches ... Five different players - Baldwin, Harrington, Elissa Ji, Tatiana Santiago and Sonnie Sei - have recorded a double-double for Nevada this season ... The Wolf Pack host San Jose State on Thursday and No. 3 Hawai’i on Saturday.

The Aggies swept Fresno State (25-22, 25-20, 25-21) in front of a national television audience on ESPNU last Thursday and beat San Jose State in four sets (23-25, 25-16, 25-17, 25-23) on Saturday ... Kayleigh Giddens posted match highs of 17 kills and two service aces vs. the Bulldogs ... Giddens then had career highs of 24 kills and a .435 hitting percentage against SJSU … She also posted her fourth double-double of the season in the match, as she added 13 digs ... NM State out-blocked its opponents last week 16-9 ... The Aggies rank second in the conference in kills per set (13.31), blocks per set (2.64) and assists per set (12.03) ... NM State is holding its opponents to a .169 hitting percentage on the year, while hitting just under .200 ... The Aggies play at Idaho on Thursday and at Utah State on Saturday.

The Spartans fell in four sets (17-25, 25-20, 14-25, 21-25) at Louisiana Tech last Thursday and at New Mexico State (25-23, 16-25, 17-25, 23-25) ... Against the Lady Techsters, Taylor Japhet posted her second double-double of the season with 12 kills and 14 digs ... Japhet then posted a team-high 14 kills vs. the Aggies ... The Spartans tied a season low with just one block in the match against New Mexico State ...  Setter Caitlin Andrade is tied for second in the WAC with seven double-doubles this season ... Two SJSU players – Kristal Tsukano (3.25) and Thao Pham (2.70) – rank in the Top 10 in the WAC in digs per set ... Tsukano currently ranks third in the SJSU career record books with 1,268 digs, 144 away from second place ... The Spartans, in the middle of a four-match road swing, play at Nevada on Thursday and at Fresno State on Saturday.

The Aggies fell in five sets (26-24, 21-25, 26-24, 22-25, 9-15) to Idaho last Monday on ESPNU, before being swept by Boise State (19-25, 22-25, 22-25) on Thursday and Idaho (24-26, 19-25, 19-25) on Saturday ... In the first loss to the Vandals, Liz McArthur had 21 kills, while Emily Kortsen (12 kills, 13 digs) and Chelsea Fowles (51 assists, 13 digs) had double-doubles ... Against Boise State, McArthur led the Aggies with 12 kills and 13 digs ... After recording 107 assists last week, Fowles ranks third all-time at Utah State with 3,080 career assists ... With 54 digs last week, Christine Morrill ranks second all-time at USU with 1,163 career digs ... As a team, Utah State is hitting .203 on the season as compared to a .186 hitting percentage for its opponents ... The Aggies host Louisiana Tech on Thursday and New Mexico 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 (

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 returned 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 returned from the first team. Seven of the second-team all-WAC performers returned this season, including Katie Astle, Chelsea Fowles and Christine Morrill of Utah State. The other returning second-team honorees are 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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