NCAA volleyball: Baylor, Stanford in action, new AVCA and RPI rankings, and a nation of conference honors

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NCAA volleyball 11/26/2019-Dave Rehr-Houston volleyball
Houston's Dave Rehr is the 2019 American Athletic Conference coach of the year

It’s the quiet before the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball storm. The NCAA Tournament is on the horizon, but there are still regular-season matches to be played and conference tournaments (Big East, Big Sky, Missouri Valley) ahead.

In the only match Monday, Gonzaga (11-19, 5-13) swept Portland (11-19, 5-13) to end their respective West Coast Conference seasons. The Bulldogs held the Pilots to a .118 hitting percentage, scoring nine aces without giving up a single one on serve receive and out-blocking their opponents 10-3. Sarah Penner led the Zags with 12 kills, two digs and four blocks, one solo.

Monday also saw a new AVCA Poll, NCAA RPI, and the announcement of a slew of Players of the Week and Players of the Year. More on all that to come, but first a look at Tuesday’s matches.

Tuesday features six contests, all from the Pac-12, West Coast Conference, and Big-12.

No. 1 Baylor (13-1, 7-0) travels to West Virginia (11-16, 2-12) in the Bears’ penultimate match of the regular season. A win for Baylor would pull the squad back even with Texas in the Big 12 standings, with both teams playing their final match on Saturday.

Pac-12 leader and No. 3-ranked Stanford (22-4, 16-2) goes to Washington State (22-8, 11-7), ranked 25th in the AVCA Poll but is No. 56 in the RPI.

Then there’s the WCC, where it’s the final day of league competition for the season. Standings leader and already-crowned conference co-champ No. 20 San Diego (23-5, 16-1) hosts Loyola Marymount (14-14, 9-8), and No. 13 BYU (24-4, 15-2) plays Pepperdine (18-10, 14-3) in Provo. Pacific (13-16, 5-12) goes to Santa Clara (19-11, 9-8), and San Francisco (8-20, 4-13) has Saint Mary’s (10-17, 6-11).

Click here for the complete NCAA.com schedule. To watch any match that is being shown, go to the VolleyballMag.com daily TV and streaming listings. One click will take you right to the broadcast.

AVCA Poll: Baylor is, of course, back on top after redeeming its previous loss to Texas by beating the Longhorns in five last Wednesday. Texas fell to No. 4 after spending four weeks at No. 1.

Creighton leap-frogged conference foe Marquette in the rankings after defeating the Golden Eagles on Friday to secure the season split. The Bluejays are now No. 10, while Marquette fell three spots to No. 12.

UCLA jumped back into the rankings at No. 23, while Washington State dropped three spots to No. 25 following back-to-back losses to Arizona State and Arizona.

Click here for the rest of the poll that remained mostly the same, with only small jumps one up or down for most teams.

NCAA RPI: Baylor also sits on top of the newest NCAA RPI list, with Wisconsin right behind and Texas at No. 3. Then, to round out the top 10, there’s Stanford, Pittsburgh, Nebraska, Kentucky, Washington, Florida, and Minnesota. Not too many surprises there.

Unranked Texas A&M and No. 21 Rice are inside the top-15 of the RPI at No. 13 and No. 14. Unranked Missouri sits at No. 19, and the American Athletic Conference’s Cincinnati and UCF cracked the top 25, landing at No. 21 and No. 22.

NCAA volleyball 9/24/2019-Cortney VanLiew-FGCU
FGCU’s Cortney VanLiew is the ASUN player of the year/Brad Young photo

Players of the Year: There was never any question who would be the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Senior Cincinnati outside hitter Jordan Thompson finished the regular season with 364 kills (6.74 kills per set). This year, she set a new conference record for career kills, and in a five-set victory over UConn, she became the first player since 1999 to score 50 kills in a single match.

Joining Thompson on the season-end awards list is Libero of the Year Taylor Horsfall of Tulsa, Setter of the Year Lily Heim of SMU, and Freshman of the Year Dilara Gedikoglu, also of Tulsa.

This is the second Libero of the Year honor for Horsfall, who led the conference with 6.87 digs per set with six 30-dig efforts throughout the year. She ranks third nationally with 679 total digs. Heim led the league with 753 assists in conference action (11.77 per set), tallying 50 or more in eight matches this year. In her first collegiate season, Gedikoglu, a native of Turkey, ranked third in the American with 4.60 kills per set, scoring 14 double-doubles throughout the season.

In his first year at the helm in Houston, David Rehr earned the Coach of the Year honor …

Four of the five postseason awards in the ASUN went to Florida Gulf Coast players. Cortney VanLiew earned the POY designation for the second year in a row, leading the conference in kills per set with 4.13. This is also the second postseason award in a row for Defensive Player of the Year Dana Axner. Axner led the league with 5.32 digs per set.

Erin Shomaker led all conference freshman with a .273 hitting percentage and is the third FGCU player to earn the FOY honor in a row. Coach Matt Botsford is the ASUN Coach of the Year.

Kennesaw State’s Lexi Broadwater is the only non-FGCU player to earn year-end conference accolades, claiming the Setter of the Year honor. She led the ASUN with 11.99 assists per set, which at the time of the award being presented put her at No. 2 in the country (she is now No. 3 with 12.07 assists per set) …

America East handed out five postseason awards. For the second year in a row, POY went to Hartford middle Jenna Bridges, who led the conference with 4.70 kills per set and ranked second with a .349 hitting percentage. Her teammate Maddie Lindsey received the Rookie of the Year honor after averaging 3.00 kills per set and being named Rookie of the Week six times throughout the season.

Stony Brook claimed the other two awards, with Kiani Kerstetter being named Defensive Specialist of the Year and LeAnne Sakowicz Setter of the Year. Kerstetter led the league with 4.84 digs per set, while Sakowicz ranked second with 11.32 assists per set.

UAlbany, which won the conference tournament, received the Coaching Staff of the Year award after going 9-1 in league play …

Redshirt sophomore Jamie Peterson of Dayton headlined the Atlantic 10 awards. A freshman in 2016, Peterson took a medical redshirt in 2017 and did not play in 2018 either. This year, she led the conference with 476 kills (4.67 per set), adding 0.41 aces per set, 243 digs, and 80 blocks. Her fellow Flyer Amelia Moore was selected as the Rookie of the Year. In her first college season, Moore tallied 162 kills, hitting .296.

Fordham’s Morgan Williams is the Libero of the Year, leading the A-10 with 641 digs (6.05 per set). She broke seven program records this season: career digs, digs per set, single-season digs, single-season digs per set, and the four-set, five-set, and overall single-match records.

Kathryn Wood of La Salle led the league in assists with 1,035 (10.56 per set) and is the Setter of the Year. She also led her team in service aces and ranked third in hitting percentage.

VCU’s Jody Rogers is the Coach of the Year, leading her team to a 14-0 record and the regular-season league title …

A setter led the honors in the Big South. Winthrop’s Siani Yamaguchi is the POW after a season in which she led the league with 908 assists, 9.27 per set, in addition to 309 digs.

Freshman of the Year went to Kaley Rammelsberg of High Point, who ranked second in the Big South with a .342 hitting percentage. She totalled 217 kills, 93 blocks, and 20 aces.

Winthrop’s Chuck Rey is the Coach of the Year, and High Point libero Abby Bottomley (5.59 digs per set, 609 digs, 0.38 aces per set) earned the Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, maintaining a 3.838 GPA in her finance program …

Western Kentucky sophomore middle Lauren Matthews was the obvious choice for conference POY. She leads the league and the nation with a .462 hitting percentage and ranks first on her team with 399 kills and 118 blocks.

Her teammates Nadia Dieudonne (setter of the year) and Paige Briggs (freshman) were also honored. Dieudonne, a junior transfer from Xavier, quarterbacked WKU to the nation’s third-highest hitting percentage (.299) and totaled 1,085 assists, 81 kills, 230 digs, and 36 block assists. Briggs started all 99 sets for WKU and collecting 14 double-doubles, hitting .312 and contributing 3.32 kills per set.

Charlotte’s Yumi Garcia is the Conference USA libero of the year for the their third time

Charlotte’s Yumi Garcia received her third Libero of the Year, finishing her senior season with 6.47 digs per set, the best average among all DI players. With 725 total digs, she also broke the C-USA single-season record.

Florida Atlantic got its second-ever postseason award-winner with Zuri Smith being named defensive POY. She averaged 1.20 blocks per set.

And of course, WKU’s Travis Hudson was selected as the Coach of the Year …

Averaging 11.58 assists per set, Towson setter Marissa Wonders led her team to its first 16-0 conference season and is the CAA POY. She also claimed the league’s setter honor. Fellow Tiger Lydia Wiers was named rookie of the year, leading the CAA with a .426 hitting percentage and adding 1.21 blocks per set. Their coach Don Metil took home the Coach of the Year award.

Delaware’s Andie Hanus, the CAA Defensive Specialist of the Year, collected 447 digs (4.71 per set) and helped Delaware reach its first conference postseason since 2016 …

Green Bay’s Taylor Wolf became a back-to-back Horizon League offensive POY, averaging 4.45 kills per set, hitting .278. Her teammate Maddie Yoss is also the conference’s top setter for the second year in a row. She led the league with 10.60 assists per set with 1,134 total.

Wright State libero Jenna Story, the defensive POY, ranked second nationally and first among Horizon League players with 6.41 digs per set through the end of the regular season.

Milwaukee middle Ari Miller earned the top freshman honor and Wright State’s Allie Matters is the coach of the year  …

Columbia middle Chichi Ikwuazom headlined the Ivy League awards, averaging 5.32 kills per set with a .438 hitting percentage and earning the POY honor. Princeton libero Cameron Dames is the defensive POY with 4.35 digs per set, 361 total, and Brown outside hitter Sophia Miller was a unanimous pick for top rookie, following a season in which she led her team with 3.42 kills per set, adding 182 digs.

For the third time in the last five seasons, Princeton’s Sabrina King is the Ivy League coach of the year …

Fairfield’s Manuela Nicolini has earned a major postseason award every season, and in her senior year she is the top player and setter. The native of Italy led the conference with 11.12 assists per set and added 40 aces. Her coach Todd Kress was named coach of the year.

Alejandra Rodriguez of Quinnipiac earned the libero of the year after averaging 4.79 digs per set and adding 99 assists to her stat line. The rookie is Rider’s Morgan Romano, who led the conference in kills per set (4.59) and ranked in the top five nationally in total kills (534) …

Three of the Mid-American’s season-end awards went to Ohio players, with middle Tia Jimerson (1.34 blocks per set, 4.17 points per set, hitting .377) earning the POY designation and sharing the defensive honor with Western Michigan’s Kathleen Reilly (5.37 digs per set, 601 total digs). Vera Giacomazzi was named setter of the year after finishing the regular season with 1,259 assists, 11.62 per set.

Freshman of the Year went to outside hitter Natalie Risi of Ball State (3.43 kills per set), while Central Michigan’s Mike Gawlik is the Coach of the Year …

The MEAC honored four players with postseason awards. Morgan State’s Zoe McBride is the co-POY after earning the top weekly award seven times this year. She averaged 4.88 kills per set, totalling 504, which puts her in the top 10 nationally.

Edie Brewer shared the top honor with McBride. The NC A&T setter/opposite ranks second nationally with seven triple-doubles and averaged 5.7 assists per set, 2.7 kills per set, hitting .268.

Howard’s Tamar Wells is the rookie of the year (.326 hitting, 0.80 blocks per set) and Hal Clifton of NC A&T is the league’s top coach after leading his team to a 13-1 regular season conference record …

In the Northeast Conference, it was unanimous: Emma Granger was the top athlete in the league in 2019. The Robert Morris outside hitter set a record earning the POW honor seven times. She finished the regular season leading the conference in a number of statistical categories: hitting percentage (.392), aces per set (0.56), blocks per set (1.49), and points per set (4.98).

The league’s coaches voted Sacred Heart sophomore Sarah Ciszek as the setter of the year, Central Connecticut junior libero Ashlyn Eisenga the defensive POY, and LIU freshman OH Karolina Nova the rookie of the year.

Ciszek led the league in assists per set in conference matches (10.93) and has already surpassed the 2,000 assists mark for her career. Eisenga topped all NEC players with 4.70 digs per set, and Nova leads all freshman with 2.97 kills per set.

Dale Starr of Robert Morris is the coach of the year after leading his team to a 15-1 league record, a new program best for league wins …

Murray State outside hitter Rachel Giustino ranks in the top five nationally with 5.33 kills per set and is the Ohio Valley Player of the Year. Top freshman Bridget Bessler of Morehead State finished the season with 11.40 assists per set, a league high, and Gerig Busse, the defensive POY, scooped 561 digs, averaging 4.94 per set. Setter of the year Lexie Libs led the league with 1,116 assists, 11.16 assists per set and led Jacksonville State to a league-leading .237 hitting percentage.

Jacksonville State’s Todd Garvey is the coach of the year after the Gamecocks took the regular season crown after being picked to finish fourth in the preseason …

Jackson State’s Jylen Whitten claimed both the SWAC player and freshman of the year honors. She led the league in kills per set (3.25) totalling 344 on the season and adding 253 digs.

Her teammate Alana Washington earned the libero designation, leading the SWAC with 500 digs. Setter honors went to Megan Egans of Alabama A&M (917 assists, 8.65 per set), and Kaila Robinson is the Newcomer of the Year (199 kills, 311 digs, 14 blocks) …

In the SoCon, Samford’s Kelsi Hobbs was named player of the year after leading her team to a 15-1 regular season record with 397 kills, 236 digs, and 52 blocks as a senior. She was also named this week’s AVCA national POW as her team won the league tournament.

Western Carolina senior Meagan Sanchez is the libero of the year—she led the league with 596 digs. The Rayna Taylor Award, which is given to the league’s top freshman each year, went to ETSU’s Olivia Cunningham, who topped the conference with 0.56 aces per set and ranked third with 3.57 kills per set.

Karen Glover of Western Carolina is the coach of the year …

Hannah Brister led the Southland Conference set a new single-season record at Northwestern State with 478 kills and is the league player of the year. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Madison Green earned setter honors with 851 assists for the year and six triple-double performances. Her teammate libero Carissa Barnes is the top freshman. She led the Islanders with 569 digs and 48 aces.

Libero of the year went to Sam Houston State senior Addison Miller, who finished the regular season with 575 digs (5.04 per set), and Stephen F. Austin’s Taya Mitchell, a Tyler Junior College transfer, earned the newcomer award after leading the league with 1.52 blocks per set.

And for leading her team to an unblemished 16-0 regular-season record, SFA’s Debbie Humphreys received the coaching honor …

Regular-season champ South Dakota claimed four of five Summit League postseason awards, but Denver’s Lydia Bartalo is the Player of the Year. Outside hitter Bartalo finished the conference season with 358 kills, 32 assists, 45 aces, 253 digs, and 39 blocks.

South Dakota’s Anne Rasmussen earned the defensive honor for the second year in a row, leading the league with 4.94 digs per set. Her teammate Elizabeth Juhnke is the freshman of the year and leads the league with 4.13 kills per set, and Madison Jurgens was named setter (11.78 assists per set). Coyote coach Leanne Williamson took home her second conference coach honor. She led the squad to its first outright league title with a 16-0 record …

Anett Nemeth was the obvious choice for Sun Belt POY and offensive POY. She ranks in the top 10 nationally in points per set (5.66) and kills per set (4.86) and top-15 for total kills (471). She earned the conference offensive POW six times this year and topped 30 kills four times, all while maintaining a .364 hitting percentage.

Her teammate and setter Brigitta Petrenko was awarded the freshman of the year honor, finishing the regular season with 10.70 assists and 0.40 aces per set. She set a single-match school record with 68 assists in the Towson match on September 13.

Setter of the Year goes to Texas State’s Emily DeWalt for the second season in a row. As a sophomore, she averaged 10.25 assists per set, totalling 1,086. UTA libero Madelyn St. Germain is the defensive POY (4.96 digs per set, 501 total digs), and Newcomer of the Year went to Louisiana libero Hannah Ramirez (4.58 digs per set).

Texas State’s Karen Chisum is the league’s top coach for the second year in a row …

NM State senior middle blocker Megan Hart earned the top honor in the WAC, finishing the regular season with 3.03 kills on .370 hitting with 1.05 blocks and 3.64 points per set in WAC play. Kansas City’s Alli Schomers is the setter of the year (league-high 10.98 assists per set), and Megan Kalvitter of Chicago State repeated as the libero (league-high 334 digs, 5.66 per set). Klaire Mitchell ranked second in the league with 9.90 assists per set and added 3.02 digs per set and is the top rookie. NM State’s Mike Jordan was named coach of the year after leading his team to an undefeated regular season conference record.

Players of the Week: Georgia Tech claimed both ACC weekly honors, with sophomore outside hitter Mariana Brambilla earning the POW accolade and Julia Bergmann taking home the freshman honor. Brambilla led GT to wins over Clemson and Notre Dame last weekend, setting a new career-high with 24 against UND. She maintained a .367 hitting percentage across both matches.

Bergmann had a double-double in both of GT’s matches last week with 15 kills and 14 digs versus Clemson and 17 kills and 14 digs against Notre Dame, hitting .306 for the week …

The Big 12 crowned Baylor’s Yossiana Pressley POW. The junior led her team to wins over then-No. 1 Texas and Kansas State, averaging 5.5 kills per set for the week. Against Texas, she tallied a season-high 31 kills and career-high 24 digs.

Baylor middle Kara McGhee, the rookie of the week, also played a big role in that win over Texas, collecting six blocks and eight kills. She had 11 more and hit .563 in the sweep of K-State.

Defensive POW Emerson Solano of Texas Tech led the league with 34 digs in a pair of matches …

Creighton took home all three of the final Big East weekly awards of the season. Offensive POW Jaela Zimmerman had 4.81 points, 4.38 kills on .299 hitting, and 1.88 digs to help Creighton secure the regular-season title. On the defensive side, junior middle Naomi Hickman led the league with 2.50 blocks per set last week, adding 1.62 kills per set. For the 10th time this year, Keeley Davis is the top freshman. She had 12 kills, three blocks and a season-high nine digs in a win over Marquette, and 13 kills, two aces and a season-high 11 digs against DePaul …

Big Sky offensive POW Corrin Peterson set a new single-match assist record for Southern Utah as she tallied 66 versus Eastern Washington. She also had 45 assists in a sweep of Idaho. Defensive POW Taylor Jacobsen of Northern Arizona averaged 3.00 kills and 4.83 digs per set last week in a pair of sweeps …

For the fourth time this season, Wisconsin middle Dana Rettke claimed the Big Ten POW title. Last week, the junior averaged 4.5 kills per set, hitting .532, with 2.2 blocks per set in sweeps of Iowa and Nebraska. Her teammate Sydney Hilley was named setter of the week after she had 15.2 assists and 2.5 digs per set in those same sweeps.

Purdue’s Marissa Hornung is the defensive POW, with 5.83 digs per set and a perfect serve reception percentage. Diana Brown, the top freshman, had 85 assists (12.14 per set) for Illinois in wins over Maryland and Ohio State …

Cal Poly outside hitter Maia Dvoracek claimed her fifth weekly honor of the season, taking home the POW award in the Big West. The junior averaged 5.43 kills per set in a pair of wins last week, hitting .338 and adding 15 digs, three blocks, and three aces.

Defensive POW went to Hawaii’s Skyler Williams (10 blocks and 1.67 kills per set), while her fellow Wahine Amber Igiede earned the top freshman award (2.17 kills, 1.00 blocks, and 0.50 digs per set, hitting .500) …

The Missouri Valley POW is Bradley’s Rachel Pranger, who averaged 4.00 kills and 5.14 digs per set, recording a double-double in both matches last week. Maddy Moser of Loyola is the defensive POW averaging 5.67 digs per set and 0.78 assists per set in her team’s last two matches. Freshman Addie Barnes, also of Loyola, had 3.33 kills, 3.67 digs, 0.33 aces and 0.33 blocks per set last week …

With a .304 hitting percentage and 25 kills for the week, Tai Bierria of New Mexico earned the Mountain West offensive POW accolade. Her defensive counterpart is Madi Fields of Wyoming, who collected 40 digs in a pair of sweeps, averaging 5.0 per set …

Washington’s Kara Bajema led the list of Pac-12 honorees. The offensive POW had 22 kills against the Arizona, hitting .315 with 14 digs and two service aces, and then matched her kill total in the Arizona State match, hitting .413 with 11 digs.

Stanford libero Morgan Hentz claimed the defensive honor with 4.57 digs per set and three service aces in Stanford’s wins over Utah and Colorado. Arizona’s Kamaile Hiapo is the top freshman following her 24-dig performance against Washington State …

Leah Edmond is once again the top performer in the SEC. She earned the offensive POW designation after she set a new season-high for kills in a three-set match with 18 versus Missouri.

Setter of the Week Camille Conner of Texas A&M had 52 assists, 17 digs, and 10 kills in a win over Ole Miss Sunday, becoming the first SEC player to record a triple-double this season. She added 28 assists in a sweep of Mississippi State to finish the week with 80 and elevate her career mark past 3,000 assists.

Arkansas outside hitter Jillian Gillen is the freshman of the week following 5.50 points, 5.10 kills and 1.60 digs per set in a 2-0 week for the Razorbacks.

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