PHOENIX, Ariz. — The 2013 WAC volleyball award winners, as selected by the league's nine head coaches, were announced Sunday, and four Utah Valley Wolverines made the cut. Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Stringham and junior libero McKenna Tait were named to the First Team, while senior setter Brookelyn Hall was named to the Second and freshman outside hitter Nakisha Willden to the All-Freshmen squad.
"Each of the girls have worked really hard and they are well deserving of this honor," head coach Sam Atoa said. "It is a team sport and I'm sure that they would all give credit to their teammates for their success. But I'm proud of each of them and what they accomplished."
Stringham, a 6-foot-1 middle blocker from Kaysville, Utah, earned her second straight First Team All-Conference award after leading the WAC in blocks in conference-only matches (1.57 per set average). The Davis High School product also finished second in the WAC in blocks for the entire season (1.33) and ranks 32nd nationally in that same category. Stringham also finished seventh in the league in hitting percentage (.275) and second on the team in kill per set average (2.59). She also recently broke UVU's single-season records during her sophomore campaign in total blocks (156) and solo blocks (16).
Tait, a 5-8 libero from South Jordan, Utah, led the WAC in service aces with 53 this season. Her 0.45 ace per set average is also good enough to rank her 15th in the nation. The former Bingham High School standout also finished fourth in the conference in digs with an average of 4.72 per set in WAC-only play. With 141 aces in three seasons at Utah Valley, the junior also recently became the program's all-time career service ace record holder.
Hall, a 6-0 setter from Gilbert, Ariz., received her fourth all-conference recognition of her career as she is now a two-time Second Team All-Conference performer, as well as a two-time First Team recipient. This season the captain Hall finished fourth in the WAC in assists with an average of 9.69 per set in conference-only play and third in all matches (9.49). In conference-only play this season, the Mesquite High School product has also averaged 2.54 digs, 0.93 blocks, 0.82 kills and a .282 attack percentage in WAC-only play. Hall also led the Wolverines on the season in double-doubles with 10 and recently became UVU's all-time record holder in career assists, currently having 4,250.
Willden, a 5-10 outside hitter from South Jordan, Utah, was named to the All-Freshmen Team after averaging 2.00 kills per set as well as 1.89 digs in WAC-only play this season. The true freshman from Bingham High School also recorded two double-doubles in conference play and a 0.30 block per set average.
In all, six of the nine schools were represented on the teams, led by Bakersfield and Utah Valley with two players each on the First Team and one apiece on the Second Team. Top-seeded New Mexico State had two players on the First Team.
New Mexico State senior middle hitter Desiree Scott was named WAC Player of the Year, while Seattle U's Iris Ivanis was named Freshman of the Year. NM State head coach Mike Jordan was named WAC Coach of the Year.
Scott earned WAC Player of the Year honors after ranking second in the conference in WAC matches in blocks (1.38), third in hitting percentage (.401), fifth in points (3.69) and ninth in kills (2.78). She hit .300 or better in 11 of 16 WAC matches. In the most recent NCAA statistics, Scott ranks 40th nationally in blocks per set (1.29).
Ivanis earned Freshman of the Year honors after ranking third in the league in WAC play in kills (3.53), fourth in points (3.96) and ninth in service aces (0.27). She also averaged 2.06 digs per set in WAC play, had 10 or more kills in 11 of the 13 WAC matches in which she played and had four double-doubles in WAC play.
Jordan led his team to its second WAC regular-season title with a 14-2 league record and the No. 1 seed in the WAC Tournament. This is the third time in his career he's earned the honor (2006, 2008).
The 2013 WAC Tournament will begin Monday in Phoenix, Ariz., at Grand Canyon University's GCU Arena. The No. 3 Wolverines will play the opening match of the tournament against No. 6 Seattle U at 5 p.m. The winner of the contest will advance to the semis to take on No. 2 Bakersfield on Tuesday at 5 p.m. The championship match will then be held Wednesday at 5 p.m., with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"Now that the regular season is behind us, we're looking forward to the opportunity to be successful in the WAC Tournament," Atoa said.
School, Yr., Pos., Hometown (Previous School)
Debora Araujo — Bakersfield, Sr., OH, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (Western Nebraska CC)
Fernanda Gonçalves — Bakersfield, Sr., S, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (Western Nebraska CC)
Gwen Murphy — New Mexico State, So., MH, Elfrida, Ariz. (Valley Union)
Alyssa Schultz — Idaho, Jr., MB, Issaquah, Wash. (Issaquah)
Desiree Scott — New Mexico State, Sr., MH, Tucson, Ariz. (Catalina Foothills)
Lauren Stringham — Utah Valley, So., MB, Kaysville, Utah (Davis)
McKenna Tait — Utah Valley, Jr., L, South Jordan, Utah (Bingham)
Sydney Crimmins — Kansas City, So., RS, Clay Center, Kan. (Clay Center Community)
Brookelyn Hall — Utah Valley, Sr., S, Gilbert, Ariz. (Mesquite)
Iris Ivanis — Seattle U, Fr., OH, Pozega, Croatia (Pozega)
Taryn Miller — Kansas City, So., L, Blue Springs, Mo. (Blue Springs)
Molly O’Hagan — Bakersfield, Jr., MB, Tonganoxie, Kan. (Tonganoxie)
Martina Samadan — Seattle U, So., MB, Split, Croatia (Virginia Commonwealth)
Taylor Wilkinson — Idaho, Sr., MB, Pocatello, Idaho (College of Southern Idaho)
Kaylyn Brandt — Kansas City, S, Sumner, Iowa (Sumner-Fredericksburg)
Ali Forde — Idaho, OH, Woodinville, Wash. (Woodinville)
Iris Ivanis — Seattle U, OH, Pozega, Croatia (Pozega)
Kerry Lane — Seattle U, S, Tucson, Ariz. (Canyon del Oro)
Alisha Watson — Texas-Pan American, RS, Round Rock, Texas (Round Rock)
Nakisha Willden — Utah Valley, OH, South Jordan, Utah (Bingham)
WAC Player of the Year: Desiree Scott, New Mexico State
WAC Freshman of the Year: Iris Ivanis, Seattle U
WAC Coach of the Year: Mike Jordan, New Mexico State
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.