NCAA POWs: A nation full of big-time performances

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Bojana Mitrovic of UT Rio Grande Valley/Raziel Sanchez photo

From Arkansas State senior libero Markie Schaedig averaging 6.88 digs to lead the Sun Belt, to New Hampshire junior Demi Muses averaging 5.14 kills to lead the America East, to Illinois State libero Courtney Pence, who had a record-breaking weekend to lead the Missouri Valley, all the top performances of the past week are here.

You can look forward every Tuesday to the VolleyballMag.com roundup of the POWs around the country.

POWs, of course, are players of the week, and we will do our best to list the honorees from all 32 Division I conferences here.

ACC

The POW honor went to Florida State’s Katie Horton. The senior outside averaged three kills and four digs per set, including 13 kills and 11 digs with a .591 hitting percentage against Miami.

The freshman POW is Wake Forest outside Caroline Rassenfoss. The freshman recorded season highs in kills (26) and solos blocks (3) in the win over Virginia. Her 26 kills were the most by a Demon Deacon this season. She then had 20 of Wake Forest’s 49 kills in the loss against Duke and hit .333 for the week.

Big 12

Baylor junior outside Katie Staiger and Texas junior outside Ebony Nwanebu shared offensive POW honors, while Baylor’s Jana Bruske.

The defensive POW was Baylor junior libero Jana Brusek, while Micaya White of Texas and Payton Caffrey of West Virginia shared freshman honors.

Staiger was named the AVCA national POW. Staiger, who ranks third in the nation in kills per set and fifth nationally in points per set, has helped lead the Bears to a nine-match winning streak. She led the league in kills last week with 64, averaging 5.82 per set. Her 23 kills in Baylor’s sweep over No. 23 Kansas State on Sunday was the most in a three-set match for a Baylor hitter since 2001.

Nwanebu hit .476 combined against Kansas and West Virginia and averaged 4.12 kills.

Brusek led the league by averaging 5.91 digs.

White averaged 5.00 kills and hit .302 to go with 17 digs and six blocks.

Caffrey averaged 5.71 kills, including 26 against Texas.

Big Ten

There were a lot of impressive numbers among the Big Ten POWs.

Start with the offensive winner, Minnesota senior outside Sarah Wilhite, who took the honor for the second time this season after averaging 4.3 kills and hitting .311.

Wisconsin sophomore middle Tionna Williams made it back to back as the defensive POW after averaging 2.0 blocks including eight against Ohio State.

The setter is Nebraska junior Kelly Hunter, who averaged 10.6 assists per set and added 20 digs, 10 blocks and two service aces.

And the freshman is Illinois outside Jacqueline Quade, who had 25 kills in two matches and hit .246.

Pac-12

It’s no surprise after the week Washington State had that its players would be honored. And senior outside Kyra Holt is the league’s offensive POW and sophomore teammate Claire Martin got the defensive honor. The top freshman was Bailey Choy of Utah.

Holt averaged 4.33 kills per set, hit . 207, and had 2.33 digs as the Cougars knocked off Washington and UCLA.

Martin averaged 0.89 kills, 0.22 digs and 1.78 blocks, including seven at Washington and eight more at UCLA.

Choy had 79 assists, four kills, an ace and 35 digs in two matches.

Southeastern

Two Kentucky players were among the honorees, including setter Olivia Dailey and middle Kaz Brown.

Brown was a co-offensive POW with Missouri’s Carly Kan. Brown averaged 3.57 kills per set and hit .476, while Kan had 22 kills and hit .447 in two victories. She averaged 3.67 kills and 4.00 digs.

The defensive player was Florida junior libero Caroline Knop, who averaged 6.00 digs per set, including a career high 31 against Ole Miss.

Dailey had two kills, 40 assists and six digs against Georgia and then 47 assists and four aces against Mississippi State.

And the SEC freshman is Florida middle Rachael Kramer. The 6-foot-8 Kramer leads the league in hitting at .596 and is third in blocks at 1.34 per set.

New Hampshire's xxx Muses
New Hampshire’s Demi Muses

America East

New Hampshire junior Demi Muses is the POW. She averaged 5.14 kills and hit .361 in four matches.

Freshman teammate Emily Tanski was the rookie of the week after averaging 3.21 kills and 4.21 digs and hit .303.

The top setter was UMBC sophomore Claudia Lopez, who averaged 12.57 assists and 2.14 digs.

And the defensive specialist was also from Guanybo, Puerto Rico, as Albany sophomore libero Nicole Otero took the honor after averaging 6.08 digs.

American Athletic

The offensive POW is UCF senior outside Jale Hervey, who averaged 6.17 kills per set and hit .394 in two matches.

Morgan Heise, SMU’s senior libero, averaged  • Sr. • L • SMU

Heise guided SMU to a 2-0 weekend, including 4.89 digs per set, finishing with over 20 digs in two  matches and is currently the leader in digs in the conference, averaging 5.34 digs per set.

Atlantic Sun

Anaiah Boyer of Kennesaw State, Morgan Van Alstine and Gabby O’Connell of North Florida are this week’s ASUN POWs.

Boyer, a junior outside, ls the offensive honoree after leading Kennesaw State past Lipscomb for just the second time in program history and the second time in the last two years. She had 17 kills and 15 digs.

Van Alstine, a senior middle, had 12 blocks against Florida A&M and had five more against Jacksonville to earn defensive honors.

O’Connell was top freshman for notching 29 kills and 25 digs in two matches.

Atlantic 10

Saint Louis senior Danielle Rygelski was the Atlantic 10 Conference POW, while Rhode Island senior Layne Self and Saint Louis junior Mackenzie Long were co-defensive players. Dayton freshman Jamie Peterson was selected as the league’s rookie.

Rygelski led the Billikens to a 3-0 week as the outside hitter 7.80 kills per set to go with 37 digs and eight blocks. She had 31 kills against George Mason, the highest kill total for a three-set match in the NCAA this season.

Self averaged 1.33 blocks per set and had 17 kills (2.83 per set), three digs and one assist. She .500 for the week.

Long averaged 5.50 digs per set and Peterson hit. .480 while averaging 3.62 kills per set.

Big East

Top player honors went to Creighton senior middle Lauren Smith, who averaged 3.29 kills and 0.57 blocks per set in victories over Marquette and DePaul. Creighton is the lone team undefeated after the first week of league action.

The top freshman is Villanova libero Regan Lough, who averaged 7.67 digs per set.

Big Sky

Sacramento State’s Kennedy Kurtz has been named offensive POW while Northern Colorado’s Makenna Meier earned the defensive honors.

Kurtz, a junior setter, had 49 assists, four kills, hit .667, 14 digs, three service aces and three blocks in a win over previously unbeatn Weber State and then had 52 assists, 13 digs, three kills and hit .333 against Idaho State.

Meier, a senior libero, averaged 6.57 digs.

Big West

The POW is Cal State Fullerton sophomore Shimen Fayad. The outside hitter had 27 kills and 22 digs as Fullerton beat UC Riverside, snapping a 19-match Big West Conference losing streak that started Nov. 15, 2014. Fayad hit .390 with four errors in 59 attempts.

CSUN junior Katie Sato is the top defender after averaging 5.00 digs. Hawai’i setter Norena Iosia was the top freshman after averaging averaged 13.29 assists, 2.86 digs and 0.43 service aces.

Bryn Recker of James Madison hit .476 and had 25 kills last week.
Bryn Recker of James Madison hit .476 and had 25 kills last week.

Colonial Athletic Association

Start with Bryn Recker, the James Madison sophomore outside who hit .476 and had 25 kills.

The offensive POW had 10 kills and 10 digs in a 3-0 win over William & Mary on Wednesday (hitting .500 percent) and 15 kills and nine digs in a 3-1 win at Elon. In all, Recker averaged 3.57 kills per set and also chipped in four blocks and three assists as the Dukes took the early co-lead atop the conference standings with the College of Charleston.

The top defender was McKala Rhodes of College of Charleston. The sophomore libero averaged 6.86 digs.

The top rookie honor was shared between Shaina White, a freshman middle for Northeastern, and Towson freshman setter Marrisa Wonders. White had 28 kills and hit .314, while Wonders averaged 12.55 assists and 3.50 digs per set.

Conference USA

The offensive POW is Rice senior right side Chelsey Harris, who put up a league-best combined 40 kills in two matches, including hitting .636 against Louisiana Tech.

The top defender is Marshall senior libero Allie Kellerman, who won the honor for the third time this season. She ranked second in the league with 285 digs, 4.67 per set.

And the setter is Jessica Lucas, a Western Kentucky junior who has won the award four times this year and nine times overall. She averaged 11.71 assists and had a big week defensively.

The co-freshmen are North Texas middle Emma Eakin, who averaged 3.10 kills, and Marshall middle Madison Hill, who had 19 kills and hit .630 in two matches. She leads the nation in hitting percentage, .475.

Horizon League

Austyn Everingham of Green Bay was one of the Horizon League athletes of the week for averaging 6.1 digs. Freshman setter Jenn Dore of Milwaukee was also honored for averaging 12.25 assists.

Ivy League

Two Californians led the Ivy.

Princeton senior Brittany Ptak led the way with a career-best 21 kills and two total blocks, while hitting .625 in her only match and was named POW.

The top rookie was Columbia freshman Grace Campbell who had a season-high 53 assists to go with five digs and three kills on four attempts.

Metro Atlantic

The POW is Kaitlyn Fisher, a sophomore right side for Fairfield, who made the most of cracking the lineup and averaged 2.42 kills per set, hit .444 as her team went 3-0.

The libero of the week was Manhattan senior Allie Yamashiro, who averaged 5.06 digs and 1.69 assists in four Manhattan victories.

And the rookie was Megan Fergus, a Marist freshman middle who had 37 kills and hit . 312 in three matches for the Red Foxes.

Mid-American

The MAC East defensive POW was against Challen Geraghty of Kent State, the junior libero featured here last week. Geraghty averaged 7.57 digs. The MAC East offensive player was Ohio junior middle Ali Lake, who had 30 kills and hit .500.

The MAC West offensive POW was NIU senior middle Lauren Zielinski, who had 21 kills and hit .513 in one match, and then had 13 more kills and hit .572 before eight more kills and a .444 effort.

And the MAC West defensive player is Meg Wolowicz of NIU. The sophomore middle had 25 blocks in two matches and also averaged 2.00 kills while hitting .367.

Mid-Eastern

Florida A&M freshman Nicole Abreu had 39 kills, 25 digs, five service aces, five assists and two blocks and the outside hitter from Peru was the MEAC POW.

Teammate Valeria Lopez earned setter honors as the junior from Colombia had 110 assists, 29 digs, seven kills and two service aces, in three matches.

Norfolk State’s Melvina Brown, a junior libero, was the top defender for 24 digs against Coppin State. And Norfolk State freshman Jill Aquino was top rookie for her 63 assists, 14 digs, two aces and a block in two matches.

Missouri Valley

The Valley offensive POW is Illinois State senior outside Aly Dawson, who averaged 4.86 kills per set to along with 2.57 digs.

Teammate Courtney Pence, a sophomore libero, was the defensive honoree. She turned in yet another record-breaking performance over the weekend, averaging 8.57 digs per set. Pence had 39 digs in the Redbirds’ sweep of Bradley, which set Illinois State and Redbird Arena records for three-set matches, and ranks as the most digs in a three-set match by a Division I player this season.

The top freshman was Loyola setter Delilah Wolf, who in a win against Indiana State had a season-best 54 assists and added four kills, seven digs, four blocks and a kill. At Illinois State, she had 33 assists and 11 digs.

Mountain West

Colorado State freshman setter Katie Oleksak was the offensive MVP after she averaged 14.29 assists per set with a team hitting percentage of .347 over seven sets.

Wyoming sophomore middle blocker Reed Copeland averaged 2.33 blocks per set over six sets.

Makayla Dole of Sacred Heart
Makayla Dole of Sacred Heart

Northeast

Makayla Dole of Sacred Heart is the Northeast POW. The sophomore outside averaged 3.88 kills and 3.13 digs per set. She had 31 kills in two matches and is averaging 3.31 kills and 2.49 digs per set for the season.

Ohio Valley

Belmont junior outside Arianna Person had 35 kills to go with 21 digs to earn offensive POW honors. She also became the seventh Bruin to record 1,000 kills in her career.  Against Eastern Illinois, she led all players with 19 kills and 21 digs for her fourth double-double of the season.

Cherlie Adorno-DeJesus, a junior libero for Tennessee State, had 40 digs in two matches to earn defensive honors.

The top setter was Hannah Stultz, a Murray State senior who had 85 assists in two matches to go with nine digs, four kills and two services aces.

And the newcomer was Kaitlyn Teeter, a junior outside for Austin Peay who had 27 kills and 16 digs in two matches.

Patriot

Jaelah Hutchison of Colgate is the Patriot POW. The sophomore middle had 22 kills and hit .532 in two matches.

The rookie is Jessica Donaldson. The Lehigh freshman outside had  36 kills and hit .325 in nine sets.

Southern

The SoCon was all Furman. The offensive POW is Paladins outside hitter Annie Bierman, while the defensive honor went to teammate Jordan McNeill.

Bierman, the reigning SoCon player of the year, averaged 4.00 kills, including back-to-back 20-kill matches against Charlotte and ETSU.

McNeil is normally an outside but had to play libero because her teammate was injured. She averaged 4.23 digs and also had three aces and 10 assists.

Southland

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi sophomore middle blocker Madison Fitzsimmons and fellow Islander junior libero Kate Klepetka are the POWs.

Fitzimmons was the offensive honoree after hitting .636 and getting eight kills against Sam Houston and then had 14 kills against Abilene Christian.

Klepetka had 23 digs against ACU and ranks third in the league with 249, averaging 5.08.

Southwestern

We’re not on the same timetable, so here are last week’s SWAC POWs:

Larissa Martinez of Prairie View was the offensive player and newcomer as she had 35 kills and 21 digs in three matches.

Christen Augustine, a sophomore libero for Prairie View, was the defensive POW for averaging 4.3 digs.

And the setter was Mykaeli Franklin, who had 62 assists, 15 digs, 12 kills and six services aces.

Summit

Olivia Hahn, a senior libero for Fort Wayne, is the defensive player for the sixth time overall and third time this season. Hahn had a school-record 48 digs against Omaha, most in the NCAA this season and second most in Summit history. She averaged 8.5 digs over eight sets.

North Dakota State setter Brianna Rasmusson was the offensive POW after the junior averaged 13.57 assists in two matches.

Sun Belt

Arkansas State senior libero Markie Schaedig continues to sparkle for the Red Wolves as she picked up 55 digs, a 6.88 per set average, and only one serve-reception error in two matches. Accordingly, she was the SBC defensive POW.

The offensive honors went to Coastal Carolina junior outside Leah Hardeman, who averaged 4.88 kills per set with a .395 hitting percentage.

The top setter was another Arkansas State player, senior Mallory Warrington.

She handed out 84 assists (10.50 per set) in two wins and also added 14 digs, 10 kills, two blocks, and a service ace.

The top freshman was UT Arlington middle Madison McConnell. who made the most of her first starts and averaged 1.42 blocks and 2.29 kills per set .

West Coast

San Diego senior middle Lauren Schad was a big reason the Toreros have won 10 in a row.  Schad recorded 29 kills, while hitting .429, to go along with eight blocks, two of them solo in three sweeps.   

Schad began the week with a nine-kill and two solo block performance against cross-town rival San Diego State.  She then opened up WCC play with seven kills, and two blocks against San

Western Athletic

UT Rio Grande Valley junior right side hitter Bojana Mitrovic is the WAC POW, which only gives one award each week.

Mitrovic led the Vaqueros to two wins and averaged 5.12 kills on .306 hitting, 2.88 digs and 1.00 blocks per set.

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