NM STATE'S BATTLE, UTRGV'S ZAYAS NAMED WAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
NM State senior outside hitter Tatyana Battle and UT Rio Grande Valley senior libero Gysell Zayas have been named the Western Athletic Conference Offensive and Defensive Volleyball Players of the Week, respectively, for the week of Sept. 3-9. This is the first WAC Player of the Week honor of the season and third of her career for Battle and the first-ever honor for Zayas.
Battle, an Albuquerque, N.M. native, averaged 3.47 points and 3.25 kills and was named MVP of the Borderland/Springhill Suites Invitational after playing in every set of every match including a pair of five-set victories, helping the Aggies to a 4-0 record last week. In the Aggies' five-set victory over Montana, she posted a double-double with 16 kills and 12 digs. In handing Arizona its only loss of the season, Battle finished the match with 14 kills and eight digs, but held her composure when it mattered most, clinching match point with a kill off the Wildcat blockers. Against UTEP, the outside hitter led the team with 13 kills to go along with five digs, two assists, one block and a service ace.
Zayas, a San Antonio native, led the WAC with a 5.92 digs per set average last week. She opened the week with a season-high 28 digs in a four-set win over Incarnate Word last Tuesday, at one point diving into chairs to save a ball, immediately getting up and getting back into system. Over the weekend, she was named Best Defender at the Baylor Classic as she posted 17 digs in a three-set loss to Rice before tallying 26 digs in the Vaqueros' historic five-set victory over the No. 15 Bears. She also added a season-high-tying four assists at Baylor.
Other offensive nominees included: Sydney Marks of California Baptist was named to the all-tournament team at the Amy Svoboda Memorial Classic after averaging 2.33 kills on .323 hitting and 2.75 points per set as the Lancers went 1-2 on the week ... CSU Bakersfield's Emily Hansen averaged 2.18 kills and 2.55 points per set as the Roadrunners went 1-2 on the week ... Lauryn Dela Cruz of Chicago State posted a pair of double-doubles and averaged 3.69 kills and 4.12 points per set ... Grand Canyon's Annabelle Kubinski averaged 2.18 kills on .283 hitting and 2.73 points per set en route to Blue Hen Invitational All-Tournament honors last week ... Tyrecia Lukes of Kansas City was named MVP of the Kangaroo Klassic after averaging 3.27 kills on .440 hitting as the Roos went 4-0 on the week ... Seattle U's Shae Harris was named to the all-tournament team at the Sacramento State Invitational after averaging 8.38 assists and 1.23 kills per set last week ... Barbara Silva of UT Rio Grande Valley averaged 3.40 kills, 0.40 service aces and 4.30 points per set and posted a pair or double-doubles last week ... Utah Valley's Kristen Allred was named to the Wolfpack/Camel Invitational All-Tournament Team after averaging 3.28 kills per set on .290 hitting.
Other defensive nominees included: California Baptist's Nicole Abreu was named to the all-tournament team at the Amy Svoboda Memorial Classic averaging 4.08 digs per set ... Mattison DeGarmo of CSU Bakersfield averaged 1.00 blocks per set ... Chicago State's Megan Klavitter averaged 5.23 digs per set and was named to the Georgia State Invitational All-Tournament Team ... Kaira Moss of Grand Canyon averaged 0.80 blocks per set and earned Blue Hen Invitational honors ... Kansas City's Brooke Jacobs was named to the all-tournament team at the Kangaroo Klassic after averaging 0.87 blocks per set ... Tijana Milojevic of Seattle U averaged 4.31 digs per set and was named to the Sacramento State Invitational All-Tournament Team ... Utah Valley's Jasmine Niutupuivaha averaged 1.11 blocks per set and earned all-tournament honors at the Wolfpack/Camel Invitational.
WAC HAS 19 PLAYERS NAMED TO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS
In the third weekend of play, the WAC had 19 players earn all-tournament honors, including two MVPs. NM State had three players – Ashley Anselmo, Tatyana Battle and Megan Hart – earn all-tournament honors at the Springhill Suites/Borderland Invitational, with Battle taking home MVP. Kansas City's Alicia Harrington, Brooke Jacobs and Tyrecia Lukes were all named to the Kangaroo Klassic All-Tournament Team, with Lukes taking home MVP honors. California Baptist's Nicole Abreu and Sydney Marks and CSU Bakersfield's Emily Hansen and Desiree Sukhov were named to the all-tournament team at the Amy Svoboda Memorial Classic. Alexandra Ecker was named the Best Blocker and Gysell Zayas was named the Best Defender at the Baylor Classic. Meanwhile, Annabelle Kubinski and Kaira Moss of Grand Canyon were named to the Blue Hen Invitational All-Tournament Team and Seattle U's Shae Harris and Tijana Milojevic earned honors at the Sacramento State Invitational. Rounding out the group were Utah Valley's Kristen Allred and Jasmine Niutupuivaha, who were named to the Wolfpack/Camel Invitational All-Tournament Team, and Chicago State's Megan Klavitter, who earned all-tournament honors at the Georgia State Invitational.
WAC STAT LEADERS
Kansas City leads the WAC in hitting percentage (.238), assists (12.75) and kills (13.52), while California Baptist is tops in opponent hitting percentage (.169), service aces (1.66) and digs (16.32). Utah Valley leads the WAC in blocks (2.37).
Individually, Kansas City's Tyrecia Lukes leads the WAC in hitting percentage (.458) while Utah Valley's Kazna Tarawhiti is the leader in kills (4.07) and points (4.57). UT Rio Grande Valley's Debora Nazario is tops in assists (10.11) and Grand Canyon's Kayla Matthews is the leader in service aces (0.39). Utah Valley's Jasmine Niutupuivaha is the blocks leader (1.08) and Chicago State's Megan Klavitter is the best when it comes to digs (5.21).
UTAH VALLEY GETS FIRST-EVER WIN OVER ACC SCHOOL
On Sept. 7, Utah Valley defeated NC State in five sets for its first-ever victory over a foe from the Atlantic Coast Conference. With the three victories, UVU captured the Wolfpack/Camel Invitational and has now won six straight matches and seven of its last eight.
UTRGV GETS FIRST-EVER WIN OVER RANKED TEAM
UT Rio Grande Valley picked up what is considered to be the biggest victory in regular season program history, knocking off No. 15 Baylor in five sets on Sept. 8. It is believed to be UTRGV's first-ever victory over a ranked Division I institution. It is UTRGV's second-straight win over Baylor, which knocked off No. 2 Wisconsin the previous day. Barbara Silva recorded a career-high 21 kills, while Dubravka Vukoja dished out a season-high 46 assists. Gysell Zayas added 26 digs en route to tournament Best Defender honors and Alexandra Ecker recorded a season-high eight blocks en route to tournament Best Blocker honors.
NM STATE BEATS ARIZONA FOR FIRST TIME EVER
When it defeated Arizona in five sets on Sept. 8, it was NM State's first-ever victory over the Wildcats. What's more, the win is the Aggies' first over a Power-5 school since defeating North Carolina on Aug. 30, 2008 and the first win at home over a school from a power conference since defeating Texas Tech on Sept. 10, 2003. The victory also extended NM State's home winning streak, which dates back to the 2017 season, to 16 matches.
UTAH VALLEY'S ATOA APPROACHING 400 CAREER WINS
After going 4-0 last week, Utah Valley head coach Sam Atoa is two wins shy of recording his 400th career victory. Atoa, who is currently in his 20th season as Utah Valley's head coach, boasts a 398-224 career record (.640). The 2016 WAC Coach of the Year, he holds a 260-193 (.574) 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.
CHICAGO STATE'S KLAVITTER JOINS 1,000-DIG CLUB
Chicago State junior Megan Klavitter became the only active player in the WAC with 1,000 or more digs on Sept. 8 at Georgia State. She currently has 1,036 digs and leads the WAC with a 5.21 digs per set average this season.
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. The only current WAC player with 1,000 or more kills, Battle has 1,081 on her career.
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 (309) and last week moved into a tie for total blocks (341). Meanwhile, Barbara Silva ranks fifth in block assists (233) and ninth in total blocks (251). 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 (.287), Silva is fifth (.245) and Knudsen is eighth (.227). Knudsen also ranks ninth all-time in program history in kills (974) and looks to become the ninth member of the UTRGV 1,000-kills club.