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This Week in WAC Volleyball - Aug. 28

This Week in WAC Volleyball - Aug. 28

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Kansas City senior middle hitter Tyrecia Lukes and Chicago State junior defensive specialist Megan Klavitter have been named the Western Athletic Conference Offensive and Defensive Volleyball Players of the Week, respectively, for the week of Aug. 20-26. This is the first-ever WAC Player of the Week honor for either.

Lukes, a Miami native, was named to the all-tournament team at the UMKC Invitational after averaging 5.00 kills per set on a blazing .542 hitting to lead the WAC with 5.29 points per set. She also added 0.50 blocks per set. Lukes opened the week with 13 kills on .684 hitting in a sweep of South Dakota State and followed it up with 22 kills on .688 hitting in a four-set win over Western Michigan. She closed the weekend with a career-high 25 kills to go with five blocks in a five-set heartbreaking loss to Austin Peay on Saturday.

Klavitter, a Fenton, Mich., native, earned all-tournament team honors at the Cal Molten Classic after averaging 5.91 digs, 0.91 assists and 0.36 service aces per set last weekend. She produced 17 digs and two assists against host California before tallying a career-best 32 digs to go along with five assists and two service aces in a five-set battle against Colgate. In the team's first-ever win over a Big Ten program, a sweep of Rutgers, Klavitter posted a match-high 16 digs to go along with three assists, two service aces and two kills.

Other offensive nominees included: Sydney Marks of California Baptist was named tournament MVP after averaging 3.15 kills on .442 hitting as the Lancers went 4-0 on the week ... CSU Bakersfield's Brooke Boiseau averaged 1.92 kills on .431 hitting ... Lauryn Dela Cruz of Chicago State posted a pair of double-doubles and averaged 4.09 kills and 3.45 digs per set ... Grand Canyon's Annabelle Kubinski averaged 2.13 kills per set last week ... Shae Harris of Seattle U was named to the all-tournament team at the Aztec Invitational after averaging 9.38 assists per set last week ... UT Rio Grande Valley's Pamela Moreira averaged 4.00 kills per set last week ... Kristen Allred of Utah Valley was named to the Aggie Invitational All-Tournament Team after averaging 3.36 kills per set.

Other defensive nominees included: California Baptist's Tesa Oaks was named to the all-tournament team at the Stark Vegas Classic averaging 4.15 digs and 0.46 blocks per set ... Krista Hernandez of CSU Bakersfield averaged 4.15 digs per set ... Grand Canyon's Teagan DeFalco averaged 4.87 digs per set ... Rhegan Spiegel of Kansas City was named to the all-tournament team at the UMKC Invitational after averaging 4.00 digs per set ... NM State's Ashley Anselmo averaged 1.30 blocks per set ... Gysell Zayas of UT Rio Grande Valley averaged 5.10 digs per set last week ... Utah Valley's Makaila Jarema averaged 1.45 blocks per set on the week.

The WAC had 17 of its players named to all-tournament teams last weekend, led by California Baptist with three honorees in Sydney Marks, Summer Avery and Tesa Oaks, as the Lancers won the Starkville Classic and Marks was named MVP. Grand Canyon’s Kaira Moss and Teagan DeFalco were named to the  Idaho Volleyball Classic All-Tournament Team, while Kansas City’s Tyrecia Lukes and Rhegan Spiegel earned all-tournament honors at the UMKC Invitational. CSU Bakersfield’s Brooke Boiseau and Krista Hernandez joined Seattle U’s Shae Harris and Eve Kerschenbaum on the Aztec Invitational All-Tournament Team, while UT Rio Grande Valley’s Pamela Moreira and Alexandra Ecker earned all-tournament honors at the HBU Classic. Chicago State’s Megan Klavitter was named to the Cal Molten Classic All-Tournament Team, NM State’s Ashley Anselmo and Megan Hart earned Sun Devil Classic all-tournament honors and Kristen Allred of Utah Valley was named to the Aggie Invitational All-Tournament Team.

After the first weekend of the 2018 season, California Baptist leads the WAC in hitting percentage (.244), opponent hitting percentage (.092) assists (13.85), kills (15.31), service aces (2.46) and digs (18.92), while NM State is tops in blocks (2.60).

Individually, Kansas City's Tyrecia Lukes leads the WAC in hitting percentage (.542), kills (5.00) and points (5.29), while California Baptist's Natalie Zimmerer  is tops in assists (11.42). Barbara Silva of UT Rio Grande Valley leads the WAC in service aces (0.80), while Seattle U's Maja Stojanovic is tops in blocks (1.50). Megan Klavitter of Chicago State leads the WAC in digs (5.91).

After recording a victory over Holy Cross in the season opener, Utah Valley head coach Sam Atoa is nine wins shy of recording his 400th career victory. Atoa, who is currently in his 20th season as Utah Valley's head coach, boasts a 391-223 career record (.637). The 2016 WAC Coach of the Year, he holds a 253-192 (.569) mark during his 16 seasons of coaching Utah Valley at the NCAA Division I level, as well as a 138-31 (.775) clip during his four seasons of coaching the Wolverines during the school's junior college era.

UT Rio Grande Valley currently has two of the best blockers in program history. Alexandra Ecker already holds the program record for block assists (288) and ranks third in total blocks (314). Meanwhile, Barbara Silva ranks eighth in block assists (217) and ninth in total blocks (233). The duo also join WAC Preseason Player of the Year Ragni Steen Knudsen to rank in the Top 10 in hitting percentage. Ecker is second (.281), Silva is fifth (.243) and Knudsen is eighth (.233).

The WAC coaches selected NM State to win the WAC regular-season crown in 2018 as the Aggies received six of the first-place votes and 62 total points to earn the top spot in the poll. UT Rio Grande Valley finished in second place with 57 points and the other three first-place votes. Reigning WAC Tournament champion CSU Bakersfield was picked to finish third with 48 points, while Utah Valley was fourth with 42 points. Kansas City was selected in fifth place with 35 points, while Grand Canyon was sixth with 30 points. Seattle U was picked seventh with 23 points, while WAC newcomer California Baptist was selected eighth with 17 points. Chicago State rounded out the poll with 10 points.

UT Rio Grande Valley senior outside hitter Ragni Steen Knudsen was selected as the WAC Preseason Player of the Year. NM State and UT Rio Grande Valley placed the most players on the preseason All-WAC team with three apiece, while CSU Bakersfield, Kansas City and Seattle U had two each. Joining Knudsen on the preseason team are teammates Alexandra Ecker and Barbara Silva, NM State's Briana Ainsworth, Tatyana Battle and Megan Hart, CSU Bakersfield's Briannah Mariner and Desiree Sukhov, Kansas City's Emma Dyer and Alicia Harrington, Seattle U's Shae Harris and Maja Stojanovic, Grand Canyon's Teagan DeFalco and Utah Valley's Kristen Allred.

The 2018 WAC Volleyball Tournament will be held Nov. 22-24 at the Icardo Center in Bakersfield, Calif., and will include the top six eligible teams in the regular-season standings.

Thursday, Nov. 22 (First Round)
Match 1 - No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed, 4:30 p.m.
Match 2 - No. 3 seed vs. No. 6 seed, 7 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 23 (Semifinals)
Match 3 - Winner Match 1 vs. No. 1 seed, 4:30 p.m.
Match 4 - Winner Match 2 vs. No. 2 seed, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 24 (Championship)
Match 5 - Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4, 7 p.m.

Of the seven first team All-WAC players in 2017, two return for the 2018 season – Preseason Player of the Year Ragni Steen Knudsen of UT Rio Grande Valley and NM State's Tatyana Battle. Three of the seven second team honorees return, including Kansas City's Alicia Harrington, Seattle U's Shae Harris, the reigning WAC Setter of the Year, and Barbara Silva of UTRGV. 

Four of the six All-Freshman Team honorees from a year ago return – Kristen Allred of Utah Valley, Teagan DeFalco of Grand Canyon, Tijana Milojevic of Seattle U and Lia Mosher of NM State.

The NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship bracket (32 automatic qualifiers, 32 at-large selections) will be announced Sunday, Nov. 25. First and Second Round competition will be held Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at 16 non-predetermined campus sites. Regionals will be held Dec. 7-8 at four non-predetermined sites. The winning team from each of the four regions will advance to the Division I Women's Volleyball Championship at the Target Center in Minneapolis. The national semifinals will be held Dec. 13, while the national championship will take place Dec. 15.