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This Week in WAC Volleyball - Dec. 14
Courtesy: Hawai‘i
HAWAI‘I RETURNS TO FINAL FOUR FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 2003
No. 3 Hawai’i swept No. 16 Michigan (25-23, 25-19, 25-18) in the NCAA Tournament Regional Final last Saturday to advance to its ninth Final Four appearance in school history. The Rainbow Wahine, the No. 12-seed in the NCAA Tournament, moved their win streak to 28 and reach the Final Four for the first time since 2003. Kanani Danielson was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Stanford Regional and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Aneli Cubi-Otineru, Stephanie Ferrell and Dani Mafua.

CUBI-OTIINERU NOTCHES 1,000TH CAREER KILL
in Hawai’i’s win over Illinois last Friday, Aneli Cubi-Otineru, who finished the night with 12 kills and nine digs, tallied her 1,000th career kill during the second set of the match. She now has 1,017 during her three-year career.

SHOJI NAMED WEST REGION COACH OF THE YEAR
Hawai’i coach Dave Shoji was named 2009 AVCA Division I West Region Coach of the Year. Shoji will now represent the region on the 2009 AVCA National Coach of the Year ballot. The awards will be officially presented at the 2009 jostens Coaches Honors Luncheon in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Dec. 17, at the 2009  Annual Convention.

In his 35th season, Shoji picked up milestone win No. 1,000 on Oct. 17, becoming just the second Division I volleyball coach ever to do so. He has coached the Rainbow Wahine to their 28th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, and the squad will be making its ninth Final Four appearance Thursday when it faces off against Penn State.

The Rainbow Wahine, currently riding a 28-match winning streak, have posted a 32-2 overall record this season, including a perfect 16-0 mark in WAC play. Hawai’i captured its 14th-consecutive WAC regular-season title and won their 10th-straight WAC Tournament title, sweeping Fresno State and New Mexico State. The 2009 WAC Coach of the Year, this is Shoji’s fourth AVCA West Region Coach of the Year honor (2003, 2004, 2005, 2009).

FIVE WAC PLAYERS NAMED ALL-WEST REGION
Hawai‘i’s Aneli Cubi-Otineru, Kanani Danielson, Amber Kaufman and Dani Mafua, and New Mexico State’s Jennah DeVries were named to the AVCA All-West Region Team. With their selections, all five are now eligible for All-America consideration, which will be announced on Friday, Dec. 18.

Cubi-Otineru is averaging 3.08 kills, 2.53 digs and 0.50 service aces per set. She currently leads the WAC and ranks 11th nationally in service aces and is seventh in the conference in kills. This is Cubi-Otineru’s second appearance on the all-region team.

WAC Player of the Year Danielson earns All-West Region honors after being selected as West Region Freshman of the Year last season. She is averaging a WAC-best 4.25 kills and 4.74 points per set and has posted 10 or more kills in 28 of 33 matches this season. She was a five-time WAC Player of the Week.

Kaufman leads the WAC and ranks fourth nationally with a .436 hitting percentage. She hit .500 or above in 15 matches this season, including a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage vs. Louisiana Tech on Oct. 19. She is averaging 2.46 kills, 0.79 blocks and 0.38 service aces per set.

Mafua earns all-region honors for the second time in her career after leading the WAC with 11.81 assists per set and guiding the Rainbow Wahine to a .313 hitting percentage this season. With Mafua as the floor general, Hawai‘i has hit .300 or better in 18 matches this season. She had 30 or more assists in 29 matches this season, 40 or more assists in 14 matches and 50 or more assists in five matches.

DeVries ranked second in the WAC with 10.14 assists per set and the team’s .216 hitting percentage also ranked second. She had 30 or more assists in 18 matches this season and 40 or more assists 10 times.

HAWAI’I CLAIMS 10TH-STRAIGHT WAC TOURNAMENT TITLE
Top-seeded Hawai’i swept No. 6-seed Boise State in the quarterfinals and No. 2-seed New Mexico State in the championship match to claim its 10th-straight WAC Tournament title last week at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. WAC Player of the Year Kanani Danielson took tournament MVP honors after averaging 4.33 kills on .310 hitting, 2.33 digs, 0.83 assists, 0.67 blocks and 0.33 service aces over the two matches. Joining Danielson on the all-tournament team were teammates Aneli Cubi-Otineru and Dani Mafua, New Mexico State’s Kelsey Brennan, Jennah DeVries, Kayleigh Giddens and Whitney Woods, and Boise State’s Breann Nesselhuf.

2009 ALL-WAC TEAM
For the 14th-straight year, Hawai‘i boasts the WAC Player of the Year, as sophomore outside hitter Kanani Danielson earned the honors in 2009. Teammate Brittany Hewitt captured Freshman of the Year honors, while head coach Dave Shoji was named WAC Coach of the Year. 

Four different schools were represented on the first team and all nine overall. Hawai’i, the No. 1 seed in the WAC Tournament, had four players named to the first team and three to the second team. Second-seeded New Mexico State had four players on the first team and one on the second team, while Idaho had three first-team selections. Nevada had one player on the first team.

For the 14th-straight year, Hawai‘i boasts the WAC Player of the Year. Danielson has ranked in the Top 50 nationally in kills per set all season, averaging 4.11 per set. A sophomore, she was named WAC Player of the Week five times this season. She is a two-time first-team all-WAC honoree.

Hewitt earned Freshman of the Year honors, the seventh Rainbow Wahine player to do so. She ranked second in the conference with a .397 hitting percentage in WAC matches and currently ranks 29th nationally in the category. She was also honored as an All-Freshman Team selection and a second-team all-WAC pick.

Shoji led his team to its 14th-consecutive WAC regular-season title and an undefeated record in WAC play. Earlier this year, he became just the second Division I volleyball coach ever to eclipse the 1,000-win mark. This is the seventh WAC Coach of the Year honor of his career.

HAWAI’I CLAIMS 14TH-STRAIGHT REGULAR-SEASON TITLE

Hawai’i claimed its 14th straight WAC regular-season title with a perfect 16-0 record in WAC matches. It was the 10th time the Rainbow Wahine have completed WAC play without a loss and their 12th overall unbeaten season in conference play (the team did it as a member of the Big West Conference in 1988 and 1995).

THREE WAC PLAYERS EARN ACADEMIC 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.

HAWAI‘I AT NO. 3 IN NATIONAL POLL
Hawai’i has been ranked No. 3 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) national poll since Oct. 12. 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.

WAC IN THE NATIONAL STATS
As a team, Idaho currently leads the nation with 3.23 blocks per set. The Vandals are one of three WAC teams ranked in the Top 50 as New Mexico State (20th, 2.66) and Hawai’i (40th, 2.46) are also ranked.

In other statistics, the Rainbow Wahine are third in hitting percentage (.313) and in winning percentage (.941), 11th in kills (14.63), 12th in assists (13.59) and 16th in service aces (1.73). Meanwhile, New Mexico State is 34th in kills (13.89) and 46th in assists (12.70).

Four WAC players rank in the Top 50 nationally in blocks per set, led by Idaho’s Anna McKinney in sixth place with a 1.50 average, followed by teammate Debbie Pederson in 10th with 1.46 per set. Hawai’i’s Brittany Hewitt is 15th with a 1.39 average, followed by Fresno State’s Brianna Clarke in 26th with a 1.30 average.

Several other players rank in the Top 50 in other statistical categories. Hawai’i’s Amber Kaufman is fourth in hitting percentage (.436). Rainbow Wahine teammate Aneli Cubi-Otineru ranks 11th in service aces per set (0.52), while Dani Mafua is 10th in assists per set (11.81). Kanani Danielson is 29th in kills (4.25) and 35th in points (4.74). Meanwhile, New Mexico State’s Kayleigh Giddens is 48th in kills per set (4.00) and Idaho’s Sarah Conwell is 49th in points (4.56).

HAWAI’I LEADS NATION IN ATTENDANCE
The Rainbow Wahine lead the nation in attendance with an average of 6,423 fans per match, well ahead of Nebraska’s 4,710 average. In addition, all 20 of Hawai’i’s home matches this season rank in the Top 40 highest attended for the year, including 11 in the Top 20 and four of the Top 10. Meanwhile, New Mexico State ranks 18th nationally (1,919), Fresno State is 22nd with a 1,787 average and Utah State is 52nd (876).

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 (1,106) in victories. Shoji has led his team to 15 consecutive conference titles.

TOP STAT LEADERS
In overall team stats, Hawai‘i leads the conference in hitting percentage (.313), opponent hitting percentage (.146), assists (13.59), kills (14.63) and service aces (1.73). Idaho is tops in blocks per set (3.23) and digs per set (14.93).

In conference only statistics, Hawai‘i led the WAC in hitting percentage (.347), opponent hitting percentage (.106), assists (13.54), kills (14.75) and service aces (1.75). Idaho was tops in blocks (3.43) and digs (15.80).

Individually, Hawai’i’s Kanani Danielson leads the league in kills (4.25) and points (4.74) per set. Teammates Amber Kaufman, Dani Mafua and Aneli Cubi-Otineru are tops in hitting percentage (.436), assists (11.81) and service aces (0.52), respectively. Idaho’s Anna McKinney leads the WAC in blocks per set (1.50), while Christine Morrill of Utah State is tops in digs per set (4.62).

In conference matches only, Hawai‘i’s Kaufman, Mafua and Cubi-Otineru were tops in hitting percentage (472), assists (11.76) and service aces (0.52), respectively. Morrill led the conference in digs (4.93), while Kayleigh Giddens of New Mexico State led the WAC in kills (4.47). Idaho’s Debbie Pederson and Sarah Conwell led the WAC in blocking (1.63) and points (5.07), respectively.
Volleyball
WAC
Overall
New Mexico State
14-2
22-11
Bakersfield
12-4
21-12
Idaho
11-5
19-11
Utah Valley
11-5
18-15
Kansas City
9-7
15-14
Seattle U
9-7
13-20
Grand Canyon
4-12
12-19
Texas-Pan American
2-14
13-20
Chicago State
0-16
2-29
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CSU Bakersfield -
Chicago State -
Grand Canyon -
Idaho -
UMKC -
New Mexico State -
Seattle U -
UTPA -
Utah Valley -