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This Week in WAC Volleyball - Sept. 3

This Week in WAC Volleyball - Sept. 3

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UVU'S TARAWHITI, CBU'S ABREAU NAMED WAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Utah Valley freshman outside hitter Kazna Tarawhiti and California Baptist junior outside hitter Nicole Abreau have been named the Western Athletic Conference Offensive and Defensive Volleyball Players of the Week, respectively, for the week of Aug. 27-Sep. 2. 
 
Tarawhiti, a native of Lehi, Utah, helped the Wolverines go 3-1 on the week while averaging 4.79 kills per set and recording double-digit kills in each of UVU's four matches on the week. Named tot he Oregon Classic All-Tournament Team, her best match came on Saturday against Long Beach State, throwing down 22 kills with just five errors for a .370 hitting percentage and 5.9 points per set. She also added three service aces to go with 16 kills in a sweep over Arkansas-Pine Bluff and 19 kills with 10 digs in a home win over Idaho State.
 
Abreau, a Lima, Peru native, anchored the Lancer defense as CBU improved to 6-1 on the season after going 2-1 at the Fresno State Invitational. She showed her consistency with a career-high 20 digs against American, 17 against St. Mary's and 16 against San Francisco to average 4.08 per set. She also added 1.00 assists per set for the Lancers. She ranks fifth in the WAC in digs per set at 4.25 through 25 frames.
 
Other offensive nominees included: California Baptist's Tesa Oaks was named all-tournament at the Fresno State Invitational, averaging 3.85 kills per set as the Lancers improved to 6-1 on the season ... CSU Bakersfield's Briannah Mariner had 29 kills to go with 10 blocks as the 'Runners went 1-2 at the UC Irvine tournament ... Grand Canyon's Kaira Moss led the Lopes with a .361 hitting percentage to earn selection to the GCU Invitational All-Tournament Team ... Kansas City's Melanie Brecka earned all-tournament honors after averaging 2.31 kills per set and 1.54 digs per set in Omaha ... NM State's Savannah Davison notched 43 kills as the Aggies went 2-1 at the Lobo Classic to earn all-tournament honors .... Seattle U's Shea Harris was named to the all-tournament team at the Comfort Suites Jackrabbity Invitational, averaging 8.08 assists per set in four matches last week ... UT Rio Grande Valley's Barbara Silva earned all-tournament honors at the Utah State Tournament after averaging 4.00 kills per set as the Vaqueros went 1-2 on the weekend.
 
Other defensive nominees included: CSU Bakersfield's Krista Hernandez led the WAC with 6.18 digs per set, including a career-high 33 against UC Irvine ... Chicago State's Summer Farris helped the Cougars earn a split last week, averaging 1.33 blocks per set for CSU ... Grand Canyon's Anabelle Kubinski was named to the GCU Invitational All-Tournament team after averaging 0.82 blocks per set to help the Lopes go 2-1 at home ... Kansas City's Tyrecia Lukes led the conference in blocks, averaging 1.54 on the week as the Roos went 2-1 in Omaha ... NM State's Tatyana Battle received all-tournament honors after averging 3.91 digs per set to go with 3.45 kills per set at the Lobo Classic ... UT Rio Grande Valley's Alexandra Ecker averaged 0.79 blocks per set as the Vaqeuros went 2-2 on the week ... Utah Valley's Jasmine Niutupuivaha had 14 total blocks, including a pair of solo blocks, as the Wolverines went 3-1 on the week.
 
WAC HAS 15 PLAYERS NAMED TO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS
After putting 14 players on all-tournament teams during the opening weekend, the WAC went one better last weekend, earning 15 all-tournament selections. California Baptist was one of seven schools to earn a pair of honors as Tesa Oaks and Sydney Marks were named to the Fresno State Invitational all-tournament team. CSU Bakersfield's Krista Hernandez and Briannah Mariner earned honors at the UCI/Adidas Invitational. Grand Canyon's Kaira Moss and Annabelle Kubinski were recognized on their home floor at the GCU Invitational. Kansas City's Melanie Brecka and Emma Dyer were recognized at the Omaha Challenge while NM State's Savannah Davidson and Tatyana Battle earned honors at the Lobo Classic. Seattle U duo Shae Harris and Maja Stojanovic were all-tournament selections at the Comfort Suites University Jackrabbit Invitational and Utah Valley freshmen Kazna Tarawhiti and Kristen Allred were honored at the Oregon Classic. UT Rio Grande Valley's Barbara Silva represented the Vaqueros at the Utah State Tournament.
 
WAC STAT LEADERS
Two weeks into the 2018 season, UT Rio Grande Valley leads the WAC in hitting percentage (.250) while California Baptist is the leader in opponent hitting percentage (.146), assists (12.73), kills (13.96), service aces (1.85) and digs (17.00). Utah Valley is tops in blocks (2.46).
 
Individually, UT Rio Grande Valley's Alexandra Ecker leads the WAC in hitting percentage (.467) while Utah Valley's Kazna Tarawhiti is the leader in kills (4.09) and points (4.61). California Baptist's Natalie Zimmerer is tops in assists (10.64) and Seattle U's Eve Kerschenbaum is the leader in service aces (0.40). Utah Valley's Makaila Jarema is the blocks leader (1.44) and Chicago State's Megan Klavitter is the best when it comes to digs (5.20). 
 
UTAH VALLEY'S ATOA APPROACHING 400 CAREER WINS
After going 3-1 last week, Utah Valley head coach Sam Atoa is six wins shy of recording his 400th career victory. Atoa, who is currently in his 20th season as Utah Valley's head coach, boasts a 394-224 career record (.637). The 2016 WAC Coach of the Year, he holds a 256-193 (.570) 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.
 
NM STATE'S BATTLE JOINS 1,000-KILL CLUB
NM State senior outside hitter Tatyana Battle recorded her 1,000th career kill on Aug. 31 against Florida Gulf Coast.
 
UTRGV PLAYERS RANK IN PROGRAM TOP 10
UT Rio Grande Valley currently has two of the best blockers in program history. Alexandra Ecker already holds the program record for block assists (297) and moved up to second in total blocks (325). Meanwhile, Barbara Silva ranks seventh in block assists (223) and ninth in total blocks (241). 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 (.291), Silva is fifth (.245) and Knudsen is eighth (.232). Knudsen also moved into the top 10 in kills (938) and looks to become the ninth member of the UTRGV 1,000-kills club.
 
NM STATE FAVORED IN WAC PRESEASON POLL
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. 
 
PRESEASON ALL-WAC
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.
 
2018 WAC TOURNAMENT
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.
 
RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
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. 
 
2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT INFORMATION
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.