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This Week in WAC Volleyball
Courtesy: Hawai‘i
Hawai‘i outside hitter Jamie Houston has been named Western Athletic Conference Volleyball Player of the Week for Nov. 17-24. This is the third WAC Player of the Week honor of the season for Houston and the ninth of her career, tying her for the most in WAC history.

The senior from Huntsville, Ala., was named WAC Tournament MVP after leading the Rainbow Wahine to their ninth-straight title, as Hawai‘i defeated New Mexico State in four sets in the championship match, snapping the Aggies’ 15-match winning streak. Against the Aggies, Houston had a match-high 22 kills on .341 hitting to go along with 11 digs for her fifth double-double of the season. In the semifinal against Idaho, she posted team highs of 11 kills and five blocks. In the quarterfinal win against Boise State, Houston tied for the match high with 12 kills. She also added nine digs. For the week, Houston averaged 5.30 points, 4.50 kills on .292 hitting, 2.20 digs and 1.10 blocks per set.

After sweeping past Boise State and Idaho in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Hawai`i defeated New Mexico State 25-19, 25-27, 25-18, 25-9 in front of a crowd of 5,250 in the championship match of the WAC Tournament Sunday to claim its ninth-straight title. Jamie Houston took tournament MVP honors, hitting .341 with 22 kills, 11 digs and three blocks in the championship match. Joining Houston on the all-tournament team were teammates Stephanie Brandt and Aneli Cubi-Otineru, New Mexico State’s Amber Simpson, Krystal Torres and Lindsey Yon, Idaho’s Haley Larsen and San Jose State’s Colleen Burke. With the win, Hawai‘i earns the WAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

For the second year in a row, Hawai‘i outside hitter Jamie Houston was named the WAC Player of the Year. Teammate Kanani Danielson captured Freshman of the Year honors, while New Mexico State’s Mike Jordan was named WAC Coach of the Year.  

Six different schools were represented on the first team and eight overall. New Mexico State, the first seed in the WAC Tournament, had four players named to the first team and one to the freshman team. Second-seeded Hawai‘i had four players on the first team, three on the second team and two on the freshman team. Utah State placed one on the first team, three on the second team and one on the freshman team. Idaho, Nevada and San Jose State all had one player on the first team.

For the 13th-straight year, Hawai‘i boasts the WAC Player of the Year. Houston has ranked in the Top 50 nationally in kills per set all season, averaging 3.99. The senior hit .300 or better in 11 matches this season and finished conference play ranked second in the WAC in kills per game (4.08). She is a four-time all-WAC honoree.

Danielson earned Freshman of the Year honors, the sixth Rainbow Wahine player to do so. She was also one of 12 players named to the first team and one of six players on the all-freshman team. She hit .305 with 2.57 kills and 3.04 digs in WAC matches.

This is Jordan’s second Coach of the Year honor, having earned the award in 2006, as well. He led the Aggies to their first-ever WAC regular-season title and the top seed in the tournament. NMSU handed Hawai‘i its only WAC loss in three sets in Honolulu.

Houston is one of six returning first-team members, along with teammate Aneli Cubi-Otineru, Idaho’s Haley Larsen, and New Mexico State’s Amber Simpson, Krystal Torres and Lindsey Yon. Larsen is the Vandals’ first-ever four-time honoree.

Boise State Broncos (9-18, 5-11 WAC)

No. 7 Boise State was swept (15-25, 16-25, 17-25) by second-seeded Hawai‘i in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament last week to close out the season ... The Broncos were led by Sadie Maughan and Jeanette Jenkins with five kills apiece.

Fresno State Bulldogs (7-20, 3-13 WAC)

Fresno State went 1-1 at the WAC Tournament, defeating Louisiana Tech in four sets (23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-19) in the opening round before falling to top-seeded New Mexico State (17-25, 17-25, 22-25) in the quarterfinals ... The Bulldogs out-hit the Lady Techsters .224 to .096, and out-blocked Louisiana Tech 12-10 ... Baylee Platt posted her seventh double-double of the season, finishing with 18 kills and 15 digs ... Lacey Gera added 20 kills on .382 hitting to go with five blocks, while setter Allanah Munson dished out 47 assists ... In the loss to the Aggies, Platt led Fresno State with 14 kills and eight digs.

Hawai‘i Rainbow Wahine (26-3, 15-1 WAC)
Second-seeded UH went undefeated last week, claiming its ninth-straight WAC Tournament title ... Hawai‘i swept No. 7 Boise State (25-15, 25-16, 25-17) and No. 3 Idaho (25-21, 26-24, 25-14) before beating top-seeded New Mexico State in four sets (25-19, 25-27, 25-18, 25-9) in the championship match ... Jamie Houston was named tournament MVP after averaging 4.50 kills on .292 hitting, 2.20 digs and 1.10 blocks over the three matches ... Stephanie Brandt and Aneli Cubi-Otineru also joined her on the all-tournament team ... The Rainbow Wahine host Cal Poly for a pair of matches this week before finding out their postseason fate with the NCAA Selection Show next Sunday.

Idaho Vandals (19-10, 11-5 WAC)
The Vandals went 1-1 last week, sweeping Nevada in the quarterfinals (25-20, 25-21, 25-18) before falling to eventual champion Hawai‘i in the semifinals (21-25, 24-26, 14-25) ... Idaho out-hit the Wolf Pack .250 to .164 and bettered Nevada in kills (42-39), assists (40-35), service aces (5-2) and blocks (9-7.5) ... Sarah Conwell led Idaho with 12 kills on .375 hitting, while Haley Larsen added 10 kills ... Idaho out-blocked Hawai‘i 13-8, including seven by Kelsey Taylor ... Haley Larsen posted a match-high 14 kills in the loss ... Larsen was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 4.00 kills, 1.83 digs and 0.50 service aces.

Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters (4-24, 0-16 WAC)
The Techsters fell to Fresno State (25-23, 23-25, 22-25, 19-25) in the opening round of the WAC Tournament to close out the season ... Natasha Kolunija led Tech with 13 kills.

Nevada Wolf Pack (12-15, 7-9 WAC)
The Pack fell to Idaho in three sets (20-25, 21-25, 18-25) in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament last week ... The Wolf Pack edged Idaho in digs, 48-47 ... Nevada was paced by Allison Hernandez with 13 kills, Nicole Link with 15 digs and Sonnie Sei with 27 assists ... The Wolf Pack close out the season at the Banker’s Classic at Pacific ... They face No. 21/19 Utah on Friday.

New Mexico State Aggies (23-8, 15-1 WAC)
The top-seeded Aggies swept through No. 8 Fresno State (25-17, 25-17, 25-22) and No. 5 San Jose State (25-18, 25-22, 25-18) before falling in four sets to No. 2 Hawai‘i (19-25, 27-25, 18-25, 9-25) in the championship match ... The Aggies out-blocked Fresno State 9-2. Lindsay Yon posted a pair of double-doubles on the week to move to 12 on the season ... Yon, Amber Simpson and Krystal Torres were all named to the all-tournament team ... The Aggies host Virginia Commonwealth on Thanksgiving before playing instate rival New Mexico on Friday ... NMSU, which has participated in the last two NCAA Tournaments, is hoping for an at-large berth.

San Jose State Spartans (13-17, 7-9 WAC)
The fifth-seeded Spartans went 1-1 last week, defeating No. 4 Utah State in five sets (16-25, 25-23, 25-16, 17-25, 15-8) in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 1 New Mexico State in the semifinals (18-25, 22-25, 18-25) ... Colleen Burke paced the Spartans with 19 kills on .643 hitting against Utah State ... Kelly Crow posted a double-double – 17 kills and 11 digs, as did Emily Burke – 42 assists and 11 digs ... In the loss to the Aggies, Crow led the Spartans with 10 kills, while Kristal Tsukano finished with 13 digs ... Colleen Burke was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 3.38 kills on .543 hitting ... SJSU closes out its season at San Francisco on Tuesday.

Utah State Aggies (11-17, 9-7 WAC)
No. 4 Utah State closed out its season with a five-set loss (25-16, 23-25, 16-25, 25-17, 8-15) to fifth-seeded San Jose state in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament ...  The Aggies tallied more digs (62-60) and blocks (8-6) than the Spartans ... Melissa Osterloh posted her seventh double-double of the season in the loss, finishing with 20 kills and 10 digs.

New Mexico State and Hawai‘i shared the 2008 WAC regular-season title. It is the first-ever title for the Aggies and the 13th straight for the Rainbow Wahine. This is the first time there has been a tie at the top of the standings since 1998, when Hawai‘i and BYU were the Pacific Division co-champions with 13-1 marks.

In the most recent NCAA statistics (Nov. 24), the Rainbow Wahine rank fourth in the nation in assists per set (13.87), kills per set (14.85) and won-loss percentage (.897), and sixth in hitting percentage (.296). Meanwhile, Idaho ranks fourth nationally in blocks per set (3.02).

Three WAC players are currently ranked in the Top 50 nationally in kills per set – Haley Larsen, Idaho, 12th (4.44), Jamie Houston, Hawai‘i, 33rd (4.04) and Lindsey Yon, New Mexico State, 49th (3.86). In blocks per set, three WAC players appear in the Top 50, led by Idaho’s Anna McKinney in 12th place with a 1.42 average, Amber Simpson of New Mexico State in 19th place with 1.37 per set and Lydia Blaha of Boise State in 47th place with a 1.16 average.
In overall team stats, Hawai‘i leads the conference in hitting percentage (.296), assists (13.87), kills (14.85) and service aces (1.57). Idaho is tops in blocks per set (3.02) and digs per set (15.34), while New Mexico State boasts the lowest opponent hitting percentage (.127).

In conference only statistics, Hawai‘i currently led the WAC in hitting percentage (.309), assists (14.22), kills (15.20) and service aces (1.64). New Mexico State was tops in opponent hitting percentage (.084) and digs (15.47), while Idaho led the WAC in blocks (3.14).

Individually, Idaho’s Haley Larsen leads the league in kills (4.44) and points (4.90) per set. Hawai‘i’s Amber Kaufman leads the WAC in hitting percentage (.375) and service aces (0.51), while teammate Dani Mafua and is tops in assists (11.25). New Mexico State’s Krystal Torres leads the league in digs per set (4.56), while Anna McKinney of Idaho is tops in blocks per set (1.42).

In conference matches only, Hawai‘i’s Mafua and Kaufman were tops in assists (11.94) and service aces (0.46), respectively. Larsen led the conference in kills (4.48) and points (4.90), while Amber Simpson was tops in hitting percentage (.391). Idaho’s Kelsey Taylor led the WAC in blocking (1.61) and Torres was the leader in digs (4.77).

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 following are the sites for regional competition of the 2008 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championships.

Regionals (4) December 12-13, 2008
Host: Colorado State University
Moby Arena
Fort Collins, Colo.

Host: Pennsylvania State University
Rec Hall
University Park, Pa.

Host: University of Texas
Gregory Gymnasium
Austin, Texas

Host: University of Washington
Bank of America Arena
Seattle, Wash.
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