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This Week in WAC Volleyball - Nov. 17
Courtesy: UTSA
NEVADA’S HARRINGTON VERIZON WIRELESS WAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Nevada junior outside hitter Kylie Harrington has been named the Verizon Wireless Western Athletic Conference Volleyball Player of the Week for the week of Nov. 9-15. This is the first-ever WAC Player of the Week honor for Harrington.

The Honolulu native tallied 54 kills, 22 digs, three assists and two service aces as Nevada went 2-1 in WAC matches last week to clinch a spot in the upcoming WAC Tournament. Harrington averaged 4.91 kills on .283 hitting, 5.14 points and 2.00 digs and led the Pack in kills in all three matches. In the first match of the week at Fresno State, she established career highs with 25 kills and 27 points and hit .298 as the Pack won 3-1. In Thursday’s 3-1 loss to New Mexico State, Harrington totaled a team-high 11 kills. In the final match of the week, she had a match-high 18 kills and hit a career-best .571 as Nevada swept Louisiana Tech 3-0.

Other nominees included: Breann Nesselhuf of Boise State averaged 10.29 assists, 2.43 digs and 0.57 blocks as the Broncos went 1-1 on the week … Fresno State’s Marissa Brand posted career highs in kills (12), digs (nine) and block assists (seven) in three matches last week … Dani Mafua of Hawai’i averaged 11.17 assists, 1.00 kills on .500 hitting, 2.00 digs,  1.33 blocks and 0.33 service aces per set … Idaho’s Sarah Conwell averaged 4.33 kills and 4.17 digs as the Vandals went 1-1 on the week … Nataliya Panova of Louisiana Tech averaged 2.83 kills and 2.67 digs per set … New Mexico State’s Whitney Woods averaged 4.29 kills and 1.29 blocks digs per set as the Aggies went 2-0 on the week.

TOP THREE SEEDS SET FOR WAC TOURNAMENT, BOISE STATE, FRESNO STATE, NEVADA IN

Hawai’i, which finished the season a perfect 16-0 in WAC play, will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s WAC Tournament. New Mexico State is the No. 2-seed, followed by Idaho at No. 3. The other three teams involved –  Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada – are set, but seeds will be determined by the outcomes of Thursday’s matches.

BIRMINGHAM, DANIELSON, DURRANT EARN ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT HONORS
Three WAC volleyball players – Erin Birmingham of New Mexico State, Kanani Danielson of Hawai’i and Shantell Durrant of Utah State – earned Academic All-District honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). All three were named to the second team in their respective districts. Birmingham, a senior middle hitter from Riverside, Mo., has a cumulative 3.88 grade-point average in exercise science. Danielson, a sophomore outside hitter from ‘Ewa Beach, O‘ahu, has a cumulative GPA of 3.51. Durrant, a junior middle blocker from American Fork, Utah, has a cumulative 3.83 GPA in psychology. In order to be eligible for the team, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA (on a 4.0 scale) at her current institution and have reached sophomore athletic eligibility.

2009 WAC TOURNAMENT TO BE HELD IN LAS VEGAS
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.

2009 WAC TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Monday, Nov. 23 (Quarterfinals)
No. 3 Idaho 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 New Mexico State    5 p.m.   
Winner Match 2 vs. No. 3 Hawai’i    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

WAC TO STREAM FOUR TOURNAMENT MATCHES
The WAC will stream the first two days of the 2009 WAC Volleyball Tournament, Nov. 23-24. Viewers can sign up by visiting www.WAC.tv. The top six teams advance to the tournament with the top two seeds earning a first-round bye.  On Monday, Nov. 23, the first round matches include the No. 3 seed vs. the No. 6 seed at 5 p.m. PT and the No. 4 seed vs. the No. 5 seed at 7:30 p.m. PT.  On Tuesday, Nov. 24, the semifinal matches include the No. 2 seed vs. the winner of Monday’s first match at 5 p.m. PT and the top seed vs. the winner of Monday’s second match at 7:30 p.m. PT. Each day, you can view both matches on WAC.tv for $9.95.  Wednesday’s championship match is not available on WAC.tv, but can be viewed on ESPNU. More information and how to subscribe to any of these video streaming events can be found at www.WAC.tv.

HAWAI‘I REMAINS AT NO. 3 IN NATIONAL POLL
For the sixth-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 21st in the RPI.

IDAHO LEADS THE NATION IN BLOCKING
As a team, Idaho currently leads the nation with 3.21 blocks per set. The Vandals are one of three WAC teams ranked in the Top 50 as New Mexico State (18th, 2.72) and Hawai’i (37th, 2.53) are also ranked.

In other statistics, the Rainbow Wahine are third in hitting percentage (.321), sixth in winning percentage (.926), eighth in service aces (1.82), 13th in kills (14.38) and 18th in assists (13.28). New Mexico State is 37th in kills (13.81)

Five WAC players rank in the Top 50 nationally in blocks per set, led by Idaho’s Debbie Pederson in ninth place with a 1.49 average, followed by teammate Anna McKinney in 10th with 1.46. Hawai’i’s Brittany Hewitt is 15th with a 1.40 average, followed by Fresno State’s Brianna Clarke in 32nd with a 1.28 average. Erin Birmingham of New Mexico State rounds out the group in 46th place (1.22).

Several other players rank in the Top 50 in other statistical categories. Hawai’i’s Amber Kaufman is third in hitting percentage (.471) and 30th in service aces (0.43). Rainbow Wahine teammate Aneli Cubi-Otineru ranks sixth in service aces per set (0.57), while Dani Mafua is 14th in assists per set (11.54) and Brittany Hewitt is 29th in hitting percentage (.367). Meanwhile, New Mexico State’s Kayleigh Giddens is 41st in kills per set (4.04) and 47th in points per set (4.52). Sarah Conwell of Idaho is 50th in points (4.49).

HAWAI’I LEADS NATION IN ATTENDANCE
The Rainbow Wahine currently lead the nation in attendance with an average of 6,423 fans per match, well ahead of Nebraska’s 4,983 average. In addition, all 20 of Hawai’i’s home matches this season rank in the Top 40 highest attended for the year, including four of the Top 10. Meanwhile, New Mexico State ranks 18th nationally (1,919), Fresno State is 21st with a 1,787 average and Utah State is 50th (888).

SHOJI EARNS 1,000TH CAREER VICTORY
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 (1,102) in victories. Shoji has led his team to 15 consecutive conference titles and appearances in 10 of the last 11 NCAA regionals.

HAWAI’I, NM STATE, IDAHO WIN ESPNU BROADCAST MATCHES
Hawai’i beat Fresno State, Idaho defeated Utah State and New Mexico State swept Fresno State in the first three WAC ESPNU broadcasts this season. The remaining ESPNU broadcast this season is the championship match of the WAC Tournament, which airs at 6:30 p.m. (PT) next Wednesday, Nov. 25.

UH RECORDS PROGRAM’S 1,000TH WIN
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.

BOISE STATE BRONCOS (7-20, 7-8 WAC)
The Broncos fell in three sets (16-25, 14-25, 16-25) to No. 3 Hawai’i last Thursday and defeated San Jose State in four sets (25-22, 25-12, 19-25, 25-21) on Saturday for their best WAC record ever and best conference mark since 1998, when the team went 11-5 in the Big Sky Conference ... In the loss to Hawai’i, Breann Nesselhuf had 29 assists and seven digs ... Alisha Young and Sadie Maughan posted 16 and 15 kills, respectively, in the win over the Spartans ... Nesselhuf dished out 43 assists and tallied 10 digs for her sixth double-double of the season ... The Broncos play at Idaho on Thursday in their only match this week ... Boise State has locked up a spot in next week’s WAC Tournament with its seed to be determined by Thursday’s results.

FRESNO STATE BULLDOGS (13-14, 6-9 WAC)
The Bulldogs fell to Nevada (25-14, 20-25, 21-25, 24-26) last Monday, defeated Louisiana Tech (23-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-23) on Thursday and were swept (19-25, 21-25, 22-25) by New Mexico State on Saturday ... Allanah Munson posted her seventh double-double of the season with 33 assists and 13 digs, Kelli Parker recorded her first career double-double with 16 kills and 11 digs vs. Nevada ... Marissa Brand posted career highs of 12 kills and nine digs vs. Tech ... Brand also had a career-high seven block assists vs. New Mexico State ... Kelly Leonardo ranks fourth on the Bulldog career blocks list with 335 ... The Bulldogs play at Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday and at San Jose State on Thursday ... Fresno State had earned a spot in the WAC Tournament with its seed to be determined by Thursday’s results.

HAWAI‘I RAINBOW WAHINE (26-2, 16-0 WAC)
The Rainbow Wahine swept Boise State (25-16, 25-14, 25-16) and Idaho (25-12, 25-15, 25-21) last week ... Dani Mafua recorded her third double-double on the year against Boise State with 31 assists and 10 digs ... Aneli Cubi-Otineru had a match-high 16 kills on .375 hitting and added eight digs against Idaho ... The Rainbow Wahine beat Utah State (25-19, 22-25, 25-19, 25-13) on Monday to go undefeated in the WAC ... Kanani Danielson had a career-high 32 kills, the most by a UH player since 2006 ... Cubi-Otineru tied a career-high with 22 kills on .462 hitting. She also added 11 digs for her third double-double of the season ... The 16-0 record marks the 12th time in history UH has finished conference play without a loss ... The top-seeded Rainbow Wahine face the winner of the No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed match in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament next Tuesday.

IDAHO VANDALS (14-14, 10-5 WAC)
The Vandals swept San Jose State (25-18, 25-22, 27-25) last Thursday and fell in three sets (12-25, 15-25, 21-25) to No. 3 Hawai’i on Saturday ... Sarah Conwell had 19 kills on .340 hitting, 18 digs and four blocks vs. San Jose State ... Conwell led the team with seven kills and seven digs vs. the Rainbow Wahine ... Conwell now has 15 double-doubles this season, tops in the WAC ... Idaho leads the nation with 3.21 blocks per set, led by Debbie Pederson in ninth place (1.49) and Anna McKinney in 10th (1.46) ... Conwell currently ranks 50th nationally with 4.49 points per set ... As a team, the Vandals lead the WAC in blocks and digs (14.67) and rank second in service aces (1.37) ... Idaho hosts Boise State for its final regular-season match on Thursday ... The Vandals are the No. 3 seed in the WAC Tournament and will face the No. 6 seed in the opening round next Monday.

LOUISIANA TECH LADY TECHSTERS (15-18, 4-12 WAC)
The Techsters defeated Centenary in five sets (25-17, 22-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-8) last Tuesday before falling at Fresno State in four sets (25-23, 20-25, 20-25, 23-25) last Thursday and being swept at Nevada (12-25, 14-25, 16-25) on Saturday to conclude the season ... Nataliya Panova had 16 kills and 19 digs, while Kassia Pinto tallied 11 kills and 12 digs vs. the Ladies ... Pinto recorded her second double-double of the week vs. the Bulldogs, finishing with 11 kills and 10 digs ... Panova recorded a team-best 10 double-doubles on the year ... Kara Jones posted a WAC-best 32 solo blocks this season ... Tech’s 15 wins this season are the most since 2005 ... The Techsters won a combined 16 matches in the past three seasons and recorded an 11-win turnaround from last season.

NEVADA WOLF PACK (11-18, 7-8 WAC)
The Wolf Pack defeated Fresno State (14-25, 25-20, 25-21, 26-24) last Monday, fell in four sets (25-23, 13-25, 12-25, 17-25) to New Mexico State last Thursday and swept (25-12, 25-14, 25-16) Louisiana Tech on Saturday ... Kylie Harrington led the Pack in kills in all three matches, posting a career-high 25 kills vs. the Bulldogs ... Harrington hit a career-high .571 with a match-high 18 kills vs. Tech ... Lindsay Baldwin has 1,004 career points, sixth in school history, while Sonnie Sei has 1,762 career assists, good for eighth place ... Nicole Link’s 395 digs this season is the sixth-best total at Nevada, while her 979 career digs ranks ninth ... The Wolf Pack play at Utah State on Thursday in their only match this week ... Nevada has secured a spot in the WAC Tournament with its seed to be determined by Thursday’s results.

NEW MEXICO STATE AGGIES (18-8, 13-3 WAC)
The Aggies defeated Nevada in four sets (23-25, 25-13, 25-12, 25-17) last Thursday and swept Fresno State (25-19, 25-21, 25-22) on Saturday ... Whitney Woods posted a match-high 19 kills on .406 hitting against the Wolf Pack ... In the sweep of the Bulldogs, Kayleigh Giddens posted a match-high 13 kills, followed by Woods with 11 ... Woods has posted double-digit kills in three consecutive matches and 11 times this season ... The Aggies currently rank 18th nationally in blocks per set (2.72) and 37th in kills per set (13.81) ... Giddens is 41st in the nation in kills (4.04) and 47th in points (4.52) ... Erin Birmingham ranks 46th nationally with 1.22 blocks per set ... The Aggies, the No. 2 seed in the WAC Tournament, are idle until next Tuesday, when they face the winner of the Idaho vs. No. 6 seed match.

SAN JOSE STATE SPARTANS (1-25, 1-14 WAC)
The Spartans were swept (18-25, 22-25, 25-27) by Idaho last Thursday and fell in four sets (22-25, 12-25, 25-19, 21-25) at Boise State on Saturday ... Caitlin Andrade recorded a double-double with 30 assists and 10 digs vs. the Vandals ... Taylor Japhet led the Spartans with 12 kills, while Kristal Tsukano had a team-high 12 digs against Idaho ... Against the Broncos, Kylie Miraldi posted a team-high 12 kills, while Andrade had 38 assists and 11 digs on the night for her ninth double-double of the season ... Andrade remains the only player in the WAC and one of just 27 players nationwide to record a triple-double this season ... Kristal Tsukano currently ranks third in the SJSU career record books with 1,335 digs, 77 shy of second place ... The Spartans play at Fresno State on Thursday and at Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday to close out the season.

UTAH STATE AGGIES (14-14, 5-10 WAC)
The Aggies fell in four sets (19-25, 25-22, 19-25, 13-25) to No. 3 Hawai’i on Monday to fall out of contention for the WAC Tournament ... Shantell Durrant paced the Aggies with 12 kills on .429 hitting, while Christine Morrill tallied a match-high 17 digs in the loss ... Morrill leads the WAC with 4.63 digs per set, while McArthur ranks fourth with 3.75 kills per set ... Morrill’s 514 digs this season rank second all-time in the Aggie single-season record books, 23 away from first place ... McArthur’s 412 kills this season rank 10th ... Morrill ranks second all-time at Utah State with 1,256 career digs, 358 away from second place ... Chelsea Fowles ranks third all-time at Utah State with 3,236 career assists, 297 away from second place and 706 shy of the record ... The Aggies host Nevada on Thursday for their final match of the season.

HAWAI‘I FAVORED IN WAC PRESEASON POLL
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.

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.

RETURNING ALL-WAC PLAYERS
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.

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 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).

GARUS JOINS THE WAC FAMILY
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 and led his team to the Southern Conference finals twice.

Prior to UNCG, Garus served as the top assistant at San Francisco, and also spent time as an assistant at Texas Tech in 2002. 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.

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/Tampa Bay Sports Commission
St. Pete Times Forum
Tampa Bay, Fla.
Volleyball
WAC
Overall
Missouri-Kansas City
0-0
8-3
Grand Canyon
0-0
7-3
Chicago State
0-0
5-6
New Mexico State
0-0
3-5
Bakersfield
0-0
3-7
Seattle U
0-0
3-7
Utah Valley
0-0
3-8
Texas-Pan American
0-0
2-8
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CSU Bakersfield -
Chicago State -
Grand Canyon -
UMKC -
New Mexico State -
Seattle U -
UTPA -
Utah Valley -