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This Week in WAC Volleyball - Aug. 23
Courtesy: WAC
Fresno State returns two all-WAC players from a year ago in Brianna Clarke and Marissa Brand, both second team honorees ... Last season, the Bulldogs returned to the nation’s top 150 in the NCAA RPI for the first time since 2004 ... In 2010, Fresno State won six of its seven conference matches when it secured an opening-set victory ... Last year, Fresno State recorded a WAC-best 4-1 record in five-set thrillers ... Fresno State swept the series with Boise State, San Jose State and Louisiana Tech in 2010 ... The Bulldogs finished the 2010 season by winning three of their last four matches ... In 2010, Clarke recorded the five best single-match attack efficiencies on the team, including .750 and .739 clips in a pair of Fresno State victories ... In 2010, Brand delivered a WAC-best 12 double-doubles ... Fresno State welcomed 2,664 fans for its annual exhibition match with Fresno Pacific on Sept. 9 ... Fresno State was the only WAC program to earn the AVCA’s 2009-10 team academic award and was joined by Idaho as the only two WAC schools to earn the award in 2010-11 ... The Bulldogs open the season by hosting the Fresno State Classic, where they will face Cal Poly, Long Island and San Diego.


Hawai‘i returns two All-Americans in Kanani Danielson (first team) and Brittany Hewitt (second team) ... Hawai‘i will be led by Danielson, two-time defending WAC Player of the Year, preseason WAC Player of the Year and three-time AVCA All-American (first team in 2010 and 2009, third team in 2008) ... The Rainbow Wahine roster features nine players from Hawaii ... Freshman Jane Croson won the 2010 FIVB Youth (U-19) Beach World Championship last summer ... Hawai‘i has claimed 15 consecutive WAC regular-season titles and last year went a perfect 16-0 in conference play. It was the 11th time the Rainbow Wahine were undefeated in WAC play ... The Rainbow Wahine finished the 2010 season ranked No. 13 nationally ... Hawai‘i led the nation in attendance for the 17th consecutive season in 2010, averaging 6,169 fans ... Last season, Hawai‘i ranked 12th nationally in kills per set (14.38), 15th in hitting percentage (.284) and 18th in blocks per set (2.67) ... Hawai‘i will host the 2011 NCAA West Regional.... The Rainbow Wahine open the season with the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational, where they host San Francisco, Wichita State and Arizona.

Idaho returns 10 letterwinners, five position starters and libero Cassie Hamilton for 2011 ... The Vandals lost just one player (second team all-WAC selection Kelsey Taylor) who played in at least 25 percent of the matches in 2010 ... With just one key loss, and two freshmen who redshirted in 2010 (Alyssa Shultz, Jessica Tiffany), the Vandals did not add any signees to the roster for 2011 ... Allison Walker was the only freshman in the WAC to earn first team all-WAC honors in 2010, and the first Vandal freshman ever to earn the nod ... Idaho has not finished below .500 in conference play since 2002, dating back to its years in the Big West Conference. The Vandals are 76-56 (.576) in league play in that time ... ... Hamilton’s 497 digs in 2010 were the fourth-most in a single season in Idaho history. She needs 428 to break Idaho’s career digs record of 1,420 ... The Vandals advanced to the semifinals of the 2010 WAC Tournament ... Idaho had eight players earn academic all-WAC honors in 2010, the most since joining the league in 2005 ... The Vandals open the season at the Shamrock Invitational, where they will face Butler, Notre Dame and Eastern Michigan.

The Lady Techsters graduated five seniors from the 2010 season and return just two starters, Gabby Ording and Bianca Bin ... Bin will move into a leadership position as she stands alone as the only senior on this year’s team ... After losing seven players at the end of the 2010 season, the program has added 10 newcomers to this season’s roster ... Among the newcomers are two junior college transfers – Marcella Braz (Midland College) and Stephany Salas (Lee College) ... The Lady Techsters have four letterwinners returning for the 2011 season – Bin, Ording,  Nataliya Panova and Clara Vido ... Coming off a season plagued with early injuries, the now healthy Lady Techsters look to make an immediate impact heading into the 2011 season ... A number of passers and skilled positions stack this year’s team, giving the Lady Techsters a tremendous amount of depth ... The Lady Techsters open the season at the Sam Houston Invitational, where they will face Texas Pan-American, Rutgers and the host Bearkats.

Nevada returns 10 letterwinners and four starters (Erin Garvey, Janelle Batista, Grace Anxo and Tatiana Santiago) from last year’s team that went 13-17 overall and 7-9 in WAC play ... The squad is comprised of three seniors, three juniors, four sophomores, a redshirt freshman and two true freshmen ... Garvey earned second team all-WAC honors in 2010, while Anxo was named to the WAC All-Freshman Team ... Nevada will be under the direction of first-year head coach Ruth Lawanson ... The Wolf Pack will need to replace two all-WAC performers in Lindsay Baldwin (first team) and Kylie Harrington (second team) ... Santiago led the WAC averaging 11.69 assists per set in conference action and her 10.38 overall ranked fourth in the conference ... Santiago finished the season with 1,162 assists, which is the 10th-best season in Pack history. Meanwhile, her 1,772 career assists ranks ninth all-time at Nevada ... Kelly Chang, Elissa Ji, Brittni Yates, Garvey and Anxo all earned all-WAC academic honors last season ... The Wolf Pack open the season at the Aztec Invitational, where they will face Portland, UC Irvine and host San Diego State.

New Mexico State returns five starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s squad that finished second in the WAC ... Setter Jennah DeVries earned her second AVCA All-America honor as she was named to the honorable mention team last year. She became just the second NM State volleyball player to earn multiple All-America honors ... DeVries finished the year second in the WAC with 11.06 assists per set ... The Aggies have a big void to fill in Kayleigh Giddens, who last season became the first NM State player ever to tally 500 kills or more in a season. She holds Aggie records for career kills per set (4.42) and single-season kills per set (4.84) ... Five Aggies earned all-WAC honors last season as Giddens, DeVries and Kelsey Brennan were named to the first team. Whitney Woods was tabbed to the second team, while Rocio Gutierrez was named to the All-Freshman team ... NM State faces seven teams who reached the NCAA Tournament last year – Nebraska, LSU, Northwestern, Utah State, New Mexico, Hawai‘i and Colorado State ... The Aggies open the season at the Lobo Classic, where they face Nebraska and South Florida before returning home to host Nicholls State.

San Jose State returns 10 letterwinners, all six starters and the libero for the 2011 season ... Setter Caitlin Andrade enters the season in 10th place on the San Jose State career assist list. She has 1,783 assists in two seasons and needs just 309 for ninth place and 319 for eighth ... Outside hitter Hanah Blume returns for her second season after being named to the WAC All-Freshman team in 2010.  She led the Spartans with 295 kills (2.89 per set), and was third in digs with 220 (2.16 per set). Blume started 28 of her 30 matches played ... Kylie Miraldi returns to the middle for her senior season. She is the President of the San Jose State SAAC and one of the Spartan representatives on the WAC SAAC. Miraldi had 113 kills and 43 blocks last season ... Katie Turner returns as the team’s libero after taking over the role in 2010.  She led the team with 321 digs (3.18 per set) and recorded 20 or more digs in three matches last year ... Middle blocker Alex Akana led the team in blocks last season with 59 and added 217 kills and 14 aces on the season ... The Spartans open the season at the Arizona State Classic, where they will face UW-Milwaukee, Denver and the host Sun Devils.

Utah State returns three starters and six letterwinners from last year’s team that went 24-9 on the season and finished third in the WAC with a 9-7 league record ... Among those returning is senior Liz McArthur, who earned AVCA honorable mention All-America honors, first team all-WAC honors and was named the MVP of the WAC Tournament. McArthur led the WAC with 0.33 service aces per set and was third in the league with 4.00 kills per set ... Also returning is Shay Sorensen, who was named to the WAC all-tournament team in 2010 ... USU won its first-ever WAC Tournament as it defeated Nevada (3-1), New Mexico State (3-2) and No. 3 Hawai‘i (3-0) to advance to its fourth NCAA Tournament in school history ... Utah State’s 24 wins in 2010 were the most since the 1982 team finished its season with a 28-19 record ... Utah State finished the 2010 season ranked first in the WAC in blocks (2.89), third in service aces (1.34), fourth in hitting percentage (.223), and fifth in kills (12.61), assists (11.54) and digs (13.88) ... The Aggies open the season at the Southern Utah Tournament, where they will face Pacific, Drake and the host Thunderbirds.

The WAC volleyball coaches selected Hawai‘i to win its 16th-straight WAC regular-season crown in 2011. The Rainbow Wahine received seven of the eight first-place votes with Utah State earning the other first-place vote.

Hawai‘i earned 49 total points followed by New Mexico State with 41. Utah State was picked to finish third with 34 points, followed closely by Idaho in fourth with 33 points. Fresno State was picked fifth with 25 points, while Nevada was selected sixth with 20 points. San Jose State and Louisiana Tech rounded out the poll with 14 and eight points, respectively.

Hawai‘i is coming off a 29-3 season that saw the Rainbow Wahine earn their 15th-consecutive WAC regular-season title with a perfect 16-0 record. Utah State won its first-ever WAC Tournament title with a sweep of Hawai‘i and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005.

Hawai‘i senior Kanani Danielson was the unanimous pick for WAC Preseason Player of the Year. It is the seventh-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 and Danielson receiving the accolade for the third year in a row (2009, 2010, 2011).

Hawai‘i placed the most players on the preseason all-WAC team with four, while New Mexico State and Utah State had three apiece. Joining Danielson on the preseason team are teammates Emily Hartong, Brittany Hewitt and Chanteal Satele, New Mexico State’s Kelsey Brennan, Jennah DeVries and Desiree Scott, Utah State’s Liz McArthur, Shay Sorensen and Josselyn White, Fresno State’s Brianna Clarke and Idaho’s Allison Walker.

Nine of the 12 student-athletes selected to the preseason all-WAC team were named to the 2010 all-WAC teams. Seven members were first team all-WAC honorees a year ago (Brennan, Danielson, DeVries, Hewitt, McArthur, Satele and Walker), while two 2010 second team honorees are on the team (Clarke and Hartong).

Hawai‘i is ranked No. 10 nationally in the preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I Coaches Poll.

The Rainbow Wahine, ranked No. 13 in the final 2010 poll, received 976 points. They return five starters from last year’s squad including AVCA All-Americans Kanani Danielson and Brittany Hewitt, and all-WAC selection Chanteal Satele.

WAC teams play 10 matches against teams ranked in the Top 25 and 11 against teams that are receiving votes in the poll.

Of the 12 first team all-WAC players in 2011, seven return for the 2011 season, led by reigning Player of the Year Kanani Danielson. Also returning from the first team are Kelsey Brennan and Jennah DeVries of New Mexico State, Brittany Hewitt and Chanteal Satele of Hawai‘i, Utah State’s Liz McArthur and Allison Walker of Idaho. Four of the second team all-WAC performers return this season, including Marissa Brand and Brianna Clarke of Fresno State, Erin Garvey of Nevada and Emily Hartong of Hawai‘i.

The following are the returning statistical leaders in the WAC from the 2010 season.

In hitting efficiency, six of the top 10 hitters are back, led by Fresno State’s Brianna Clarke and Hawai‘i’s Brittany Hewitt, who ranked first and second in the league a year ago with .365 hitting percentages. Hawai‘i’s Kanani Danielson (.301) and New Mexico State’s Kelsey Brennan (.300), who ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, also return. The remaining leaders are Hawai‘i’s Chanteal Satele (.277 - ninth) and Emily Hartong (.274 - 10th).

Six of the top 10 kill leaders are back for the 2011 season. Danielson, who ranked second in the WAC last year, leads the way with 4.59 kills per set, followed by Utah State’s Liz McArthur in third with a 4.00 average. Idaho’s Allison Walker ranked fourth last year with 3.95 kills per set, followed by Fresno State’s Marissa Brand in fifth with a 3.37 average. Idaho’s Alicia Milo was eighth, averaging 3.13 kps, while San Jose State’s Hanah Blume rounds out the returning leaders in ninth with 2.89 kps.

Five of the top assist leaders from last season return for the 2011 campaign. New Mexico State’s Jennah DeVries is the top setter to return, finishing last season second in the WAC (11.06 aps). Tatiana Santiago of Nevada was fourth in assists, averaging 10.38 aps, followed by Idaho’s Jennifer Feicht (10.19 - fifth), San Jose State’s Caitlin Andrade (9.63 - seventh) and Louisiana Tech’s Bianca Bin (8.62 - ninth).

Four of the top blockers return, led by Hewitt, who paced the nation with 1.68 blocks per set. Clarke was third, averaging 1.30 bps, followed by Idaho’s Alex Sele (1.06 - seventh) and Hawai‘i’s Satele (1.01 - ninth).

Five of the top 10 servers return, led by Utah State’s McArthur, who led the WAC with 0.33 per set. Idaho’s Milo was third, averaging 0.27 saps, followed by Danielson (0.26 - fifth). Rounding out the group are Utah State’s Josselyn White (0.24 - ninth) and Hawai‘i’s Hewitt (0.24 - 10th).

Four of the 10 dig leaders return for the 2011 season, led by Idaho’s Cassie Hamilton in fifth place with 4.45 digs per set. New Mexico State’s Kelsi Phillips was seventh, averaging 3.66 digs per set. Rounding out the group are San Jose State’s Katie Turner (3.18 - ninth) and New Mexico State’s Ellen Miks (2.98 - 10th).

Five of the eight schools return at least four of their starters from last year for the 2011 campaign. San Jose State returns all seven starters, while Idaho returns six. Hawai‘i returns 12 letterwinners, while Idaho, Nevada and San Jose State return 10 each. The following is a breakdown of each team’s letterwinners returning and lost and starters returning and lost.

Fresno State 5 7 3 4
Hawai‘i 12 3 5 2
Idaho 10 2 6 1
Louisiana Tech 4 7 2 5
Nevada 10 4 4 3
New Mexico State 8 3 5 2
San Jose State 10 2 7 0
Utah State 6 5 3 4

The 2011 WAC Volleyball Tournament will be held Nov. 21-23 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., and will include the top six teams in the regular-season standings. The championship match will be televised live on ESPNU.

Monday, Nov. 21 (Quarterfinals)
No. 3 Seed vs. No. 6 Seed, 5 p.m.
No. 4 Seed vs. No. 5 Seed, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 22 (Semifinals)
Winner Match 1 vs. No. 2 seed, 5 p.m.
Winner Match 2 vs. No. 1 Seed, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 23 (Championship)
Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)

ESPNU will televise two WAC women’s volleyball matches this season as part of its Wednesday Night Women’s Volleyball package.

The first match is Wednesday, Oct. 12, when Hawai‘i plays at New Mexico State at 8 p.m. (MT). In addition, the network will air the championship match of the WAC Tournament at 6 p.m. (PT) Wednesday, Nov. 23.

The NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee announced the following sites for regional and semifinal/championship competition of the 2011 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championships.

Regionals (4): Dec. 9-10, 2011
Host: University of Florida
Stephen C. O’Connell Center
Gainesville, Fla.

Host: University of Minnesota
Sports Pavilion
Minneapolis, Minn.

Host: University of Hawai‘i
Stan Sherriff Center
Honolulu, Hawaii

Host: University of Kentucky
Memorial Coliseum
Lexington, Ky.

Semifinals and Championship: Dec. 15 and 17, 2011
Co-Hosts: University of Texas at San Antonio and the San Antonio Sports Foundation
San Antonio, Texas
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