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This Week in WAC Volleyball
Courtesy: New Mexico State


New Mexico State middle hitter Amber Simpson has been named Western Athletic Conference Volleyball Player of the Week for Oct. 6-12. This is the first WAC Player of the Week honor of the season for Simpson and the fourth of her career.


Simpson led the Aggies to their first-ever win over a Top 10 team in program history with a sweep of No. 6 Hawai‘i, snapping the Rainbow Wahine’s 11-match winning streak. She posted a match-high 11 kills on .368 hitting to go along with a match-high six total blocks. She had a critical service ace in set two that tied it up at 24 after NMSU had to fight back from an early 8-1 deficit. The Aggies’ career leader in total blocks, Simpson now has 506 on her career.


Other nominees included: Fresno State’s Baylee Platt had a career-high 22 kills and 15 digs to lead the ‘Dogs with a double-double vs. Nevada ... Haley Larsen of Idaho averaged 4.35 kills and 3.25 digs in two wins ... Nevada’s Kylie Harrington averaged 4.14 points, 3.71 kills and 2.57 digs per set ... Chelsea Fowles of Utah State led the Aggies to a 1-1 record after averaging 8.57 assists, 2.43 digs, 1.57 kills and 0.57 blocks per set.


Boise State Broncos (5-12, 2-5 WAC)

Boise State went 0-2 at home last week, falling in three sets to San Jose State (11-25, 19-25, 19-25) and Utah State (10-25, 20-25, 24-26) ... Sadie Maughan had a team-high seven kills vs. the Spartans ... Against the Aggies, Mandy Klein was just short of a double-double, finishing with 25 assists and nine digs ... Jeanette Jenkins led the team with 10 kills vs. USU.


Fresno State Bulldogs (5-11, 2-5 WAC)

Fresno State dropped its only match last week vs. Nevada, 3-1 (27-25, 29-31, 21-25, 19-25) ... Baylee Platt had a career-high 22 kills and added 15 digs for her third double-double of the season ... Allanah Munson also posted a double-double of 52 assists and 12 digs for her seventh of the season, good for second place in the WAC ... As a team, the Bulldogs are hitting .154 on the season as compared to a .200 hitting percentage by their opponents.


Hawai‘i Rainbow Wahine (13-3, 6-1 WAC)

UH went 1-1 last week, sweeping past Louisiana Tech (25-15, 25-19, 25-9) before being swept by New Mexico State (22-25, 24-26, 21-25), snapping an 11-match winning streak ... Against Louisiana Tech, Jamie Houston tallied 10 kills to lead the Rainbow Wahine ... The loss to the Aggies was Hawai‘i’s second WAC home defeat in the 12 years they have been in the league ... NMSU held Hawai’i to a .023 hitting percentage, its lowest for the program in the rally-scoring era (since 2001).


Idaho Vandals (12-6, 5-2 WAC)

The Vandals went 2-0 last week, defeating Utah State (22-25, 25-8, 26-24, 25-16) and San Jose State (25-16, 25-21, 21-25, 25-15) in four sets ... Haley Larsen finished with 21 kills on .381 hitting to go along with nine digs vs. the Aggies ... Debbie Pederson notched eight total blocks against USU ... Larsen posted her league-leading eighth double-double of the season vs. SJSU, finishing with 14 kills and 17 digs ... Kelsey Taylor and Sarah Loney had seven blocks apiece vs. the Spartans.


Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters (2-12, 0-6 WAC)

The Techsters went 0-2 last week, falling at Stephen F. Austin (13-25, 15-25, 13-25) and at Hawai‘i (15-25, 19-25, 9-25) ... Natasha Kolunija paced the team with nine kills, while Debora Bolonhini had 20 digs vs. SFA ... The Techsters hit just .015 as a team vs. Hawai‘i.


Nevada Wolf Pack (8-9, 3-4 WAC)

The Pack went 2-0 last week, sweeping Sacramento State (28-26, 25-21,  25-18) and beating (25-27, 31-29, 25-21, 25-19) ... Kylie Harrington posted her team-leading sixth double-double with 18 kills and 12 digs at Fresno State ... Sonnie Sei also had a double-double (39 assists, 14 digs) vs. the Bulldogs ... Nicole Link finished with 27 digs at Fresno State ... After dropping a season-high five matches in a row, the Pack have won their last three ... Sage Aune tied her career-high with 10 kills at Fresno State ... Head coach Devin Scruggs is three wins short of 200 for her career, all coming at Nevada.


New Mexico State Aggies (11-7, 6-1 WAC)

The Aggies swept No. 6 Hawai‘i (25-22, 26-24, 25-21) on the road in their only match last week ... It was NMSU’s first-ever win over a Top 10 team ... Amber Simpson had  a match-high 11 kills on .368 hitting ...  The Aggies have been involved in sweeps in nine of their last 10 matches, while losing only one ... NMSU is now tied for the top spot in the WAC standings ... The Aggies are 8-4 on the season in three-set matches.


San Jose State Spartans (8-11, 4-5 WAC)

The Spartans went 1-1 last week, sweeping Boise State (25-11, 25-19, 25-19) and falling to Idaho in four sets (16-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-25) ... Brianna Amian finished with 16 kills and 11 digs vs. Boise State ... Kelly Crow posted double-doubles in both matches - 12 kills and 19 digs vs. the Broncos, 11 kills and 15 digs vs. the Vandals ... Crow now has sixth double-doubles on the year, which ranks third in the WAC.


Utah State Aggies (6-12, 4-3 WAC)

Utah State went 1-1 last week, falling at Idaho (25-22, 8-25, 24-26, 16-25) before sweeping Boise State (25-10, 25-20, 26-24) ... Against Idaho, Chelsea Fowles posted a double-double of 33 assists and 11 digs ... Melissa Osterloh had a team-best 13 kills and nine digs, while Christine Morrill had a match-high 15 digs ... The Vandals out-hit USU .265 to .068. Against the Broncos, Kris Hymas had nine kills and a career-best 11 digs, while Emily Kortsen had a career-high eight kills and hit .353 (8-2-17) ... USU hit a season-high .281 and limited BSU to a .072 hitting percentage ... As a team, Utah State is hitting .169 on the season as compared to a .222 hitting percentage for its opponents.



New Mexico State handed Hawai‘i just its second WAC home defeat in the 12 years it has been in the league in front of a crowd of 6,619 Sunday. With the loss, both teams are tied for first place in the league standings with 6-1 WAC records. The Aggies also held Hawai’i, which came into the match ranked in the Top 10 nationally in hitting percentage, to a .023 hitting percentage, its lowest for the program in the rally-scoring era (since 2001).



In the most recent NCAA statistics (Oct. 13), the Rainbow Wahine rank fourth in the nation in kills and assists per set, with averages of 14.81 and 13.81, respectively. Hawai‘i also ranks 11h in hitting percentage (.280) and 30th in won-loss percentage (.813).



Three WAC players are currently ranked in the Top 50 nationally in blocks per set - Amber Simpson, New Mexico State, 10th (1.44), Anna McKinney, Idaho, 11th (1.44) and Lydia Blaha, Boise State, 40th (1.22).



In overall team stats, Hawai‘i leads the conference in hitting percentage (.280), assists (13.81), kills (14.81) and service aces (1.41). Boise State is tops in blocks per set (2.86), while New Mexico State boasts the lowest opponent hitting percentage (.147) and Idaho leads the league in digs per set (15.04).


In conference only statistics, Hawai‘i currently leads the WAC in hitting percentage (.260), assists (13.95) and kills (15.14). New Mexico State is tops in blocks (3.21), opponent hitting percentage (.102) and digs (16.00), while San Jose State leads the league in service aces (1.75).


Individually, Idaho’s Haley Larsen leads the league in kills (4.46) and points (4.89) per set. Hawai‘i’s Nickie Thomas leads the WAC in hitting percentage (.370), while teammates Dani Mafua and Amber Kaufman are tops in assists (11.00) and service aces (0.53), respectively. New Mexico State’s Amber Simpson and Krystal Torres lead the league in blocks per set (1.44) and digs per set (4.44), respectively.


In conference matches only, Hawai‘i’s Jamie Houston leads the league in kills (4.57), while teammates Kaufman, Mafua and Aneli Cubi-Otineru are tops in hitting percentage (.389), assists (11.16) and service aces (0.50, respectively. Simpson is tops in blocking (1.57), while Torres leads the league in digs (4.71). Meanwhile, Lindsey Yon of New Mexico State leads the conference in points (5.12).



In a poll of the league’s coaches, defending Western Athletic Conference champion Hawai‘i was the unanimous favorite to defend its crown in 2008 and take home its 13th-straight regular-season title. The Rainbow Wahine received eight of the nine first-place votes (coaches can’t vote for their own team) and 64 points, with New Mexico State earning the other first-place vote and 57 points.


San Jose State and Idaho finished tied for third with 42 points, while Utah State was picked fifth with 40. Nevada was sixth with 34 points, followed by Boise State (20) and Fresno State (16). Louisiana Tech rounded out the poll with nine points.



The WAC Preseason all-WAC volleyball team, as voted on by the nine coaches, was announced Aug. 8. Hawai‘i All-American Jamie Houston was named WAC Preseason Player of the Year. The reigning WAC Player of the Year, this is Houston’s second-straight honor and the fourth-straight season that a Rainbow Wahine player earned the preseason honor.


New Mexico State placed the most athletes on the 12-player team with four. Seniors Krystal Torres and Amber Simpson, and juniors Krista Altermatt and Lindsey Yon earned preseason honors. Simpson, Yon and Torres were all first-team all-WAC selections in 2007.


Two other Hawai‘i players, juniors Aneli Cubi-Otineru and Amber Kaufman, joined Houston on the preseason team. Both Houston and Cubi-Otineru were first team all-WAC selections last season. San Jose State also had two players make the team with seniors Niki Clement and Colleen Burke earning nods.


Chelsea Fowles of Utah State, the 2007 WAC Freshman of the Year, and Idaho’s Haley Larsen were also named to the team, while Nevada’s Lindsay Baldwin rounded out the preseason squad. Six teams placed at least one player on the preseason all-WAC. Eight players are returning first-team all-WAC honorees.



For the fourth-straight year the WAC will not compete in divisions. This season’s format will be a double-round robin. Each team will face the other eight at home and on the road. All nine teams will compete in the WAC Volleyball Tournament.




Nov. 20 (Quarterfinals) 

Match 1 - No. 8 vs. No. 9, 9:30 a.m.                  

Match 2 - No. 4 vs. No. 5, noon

Match 3 - No. 3 vs. No. 6, 2:30 p.m.

Match 4 - No. 2 vs. No. 7, 5 p.m.

Match 5 - Winner Match 1 vs. No. 1, 7:30 p.m.


Nov. 21 (Semifinals)

Match 6 - Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4, 5 p.m.

Match 7 - Winner Match 2 vs. Winner Match 5, 7:30 p.m.


Nov. 23 (Championship)

Match 8 - Winner Match 6 vs. Winner Match 7, 3 p.m.



The 2008 WAC Volleyball Tournament will be hosted by Hawai‘i, Nov. 20-23, at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu. It marks the first time Hawai‘i has hosted the WAC Volleyball Championship.

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