POWs, the next-to-last batch!

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Alexa Gray was a key player, some say the Cougars’ best, for BYU when it made its surprising run all the way to last year’s NCAA-championship match. This year, the senior outside hitter has been good but last week was special. And that’s why she was the West Coast Conference POW for the third time and why that picture of her leads this blog (credit to BYU Photo).

Yes, it’s that day of the week, when we have all your players of the week around the country, the next-to-last such roundup of the season.

So here you go. Click on the conference heading to go the story about that league.

West Coast Conference

Gray is heating up at the right time, winning the award for the second straight week.

On Thursday against Portland, Gray collected career highs in kills (30) and digs (32). Her 30 kills were the third-most all-time in the BYU rally-scoring era. Her 32 digs were the fourth-most all-time in the BYU rally-scoring era. Additionally, her 76 attempts were the most taken by a player in BYU rally-scoring era history. Gray’s efforts helped the Cougars collect 104 digs as a team, the most in BYU rally-scoring era history. 

Then, on Saturday, Gray notched 29 kills (including 25 in the first three sets) and 13 digs for another double-double. She also collected 74 attempts for second-most all-time in the BYU rally-scoring era. Her efforts helped the Cougars rally from down two sets to win a come-from-behind five-set thriller against the Bulldogs and take sole possession of first place in the conference standings. 

For the week, Gray averaged 6.72 points, 6.56 kills and 5.00 digs per set on a .327 clip. This is Gray’s third weekly honor of the year and fifth of her career.

ACC

North Carolina middle Victoria McPherson and Louisville middle Tess Clark and libero Molly Sauer were the Atlantic Coast Conference POWs.

McPherson and Clark were named co-POWs, while Sauer earned freshman honors.

McPherson led the Tar Heels to two sweeps and the senior did not commit an attack error in either match, finishing the weekend hitting .488 with a team-high 21 kills. Her 10 kills and five blocks helped Carolina defeat Pitt, which had defeated the Tar Heels in three sets earlier in the season. McPherson then finished with a .611 hitting percentage and 11 kills in a sweep of Virginia Tech for Carolina’s ninth-straight victory.

Clark led the Cardinals to two conference victories, including a five-set win over No. 20 Florida State. The sophomore started the weekend with a 15-kill, five-block outing in the Cardinals’ 3-1 win over Miami before finishing with 14 kills and four blocks against the Seminoles. Clark scored 35.5 points in the two matches, helping Louisville claim sole possession of first place in the conference.

Sauer earned her second freshman honor this season after helping Louisville to an undefeated weekend. The freshman finished with 44 digs – 25 against Miami and 19 against Florida State – and committed just one receiving error while being served 51 times. Sauer also recorded six assists and three service aces in the two road victories.

Big Ten

Purdue’s Annie Drews and Wisconsin’s Kelli Bates shared POW honors, while Minnesota’s Hannah Tapp took defensive honors, Wisconsin’s Lauren Carlini was named top setter, and teammate Tionna Williams was top freshman.

Drews, a senior outside, had 39 kills for the week and hit .289. Bates, a sophomore outside, had 27 kills and hit . 442.

Tapp, a junior middle, had 15 blocks, 23 kills and hit .340 for the week.

Carlini, a junior, averaged 12 assists as her team hit .355 for the week. It was her second straight setting award.

Wiliams, a middle, had 16 kills and hit .609.

Big 12

Kansas sophomore right side Kelsie Payne won her third-straight offensive POW award, Texas Tech senior libero Carlie Foust is the defensive POW and setter Audrey Alford of Oklahoma is top rookie.

Payne is the second player in conference history to win three consecutive offensive honors in the same season, joining Oklahoma’s Sallie McLaurin, who accomplished the feat in 2013. Payne led all conference players with 5.5 kills per set and 5.8 points per set. The sophomore has recorded four 20-kill performances in the last five matches, including two last week against No. 5 Texas and TCU, totaling 44 kills on a .395 hitting percentage.

Foust was honored for the third time on defense. She had 28 digs against West Virginia. Alford made only her second and third starts and averaged 11.75 assists and 2.0 digs.

Pac-12

The honors went to Colorado senior outside Alexis Austin on offense, for the third straight week Washington senior libero Cassie Strickland on defense, and Washington State outside McKenna Woodford as top freshman.

Austin averaged 4.62 kills on .408 hitting, 1.25 digs and 5.00 points per set in the Buffs’ upset sweeps over the Arizona schools. In the match against then-No. 21 Arizona State, Austin recorded 22 kills and a .385 hitting percentage in the five-set win. She also had six digs and a block. The senior had 15 kills on .438 hitting against then-No. 19 Arizona while also recording four digs and three total blocks.

Strickland averaged 4.57 digs and 0.86 assists per set in Washington’s sweep of then-No. 6 Stanford and California. Strickland recorded 20 digs, one assist and one service in the Huskies’ 3-1 victory over the Cardinal. Against the Golden Bears, Strickland she had 12 digs and five assists in the 3-0 win. Strickland had just one reception error in 44 attempts.

Over two matches against California and then-No. 6 Stanford, Woodford averaged 4.14 kills on .311 hitting, 1.57 digs, 0.71 blocks and 4.86 points per set.

Southeastern Conference

Florida junior right side Alex Holston is the SEC POW and also its top offensive player.

Defensive honors went to Missouri junior libero Alexa Ethridge, while the setter was Florida senior setter Mackenzie Dagostino and the freshman Missouri middle Alyssa Munlyn.

With 31 total kills to guide the Gators against Alabama and Tennessee this weekend, Holston eclipsed 1,000 career kills as a Gator in just her junior season (1,020). Her 5.17 kills per set and 5.50 points per set led UF to its two weekend sweeps (14th and 15th straight-set wins for UF this season). She led Florida with 17 kills in the sweep of Alabama, then tied for the team lead with 14 slams against Tennessee Sunday, marking her fourth straight double-digit kill match down the SEC stretch. Holston additionally tied for the team lead in blocks against Tennessee with two. She has now led Florida in kills in five of its last six matches and ranks seventh in SEC play with 3.38 kills per set

DaEthridge was a mainstay in the back row for Mizzou this past weekend, tallying 36 digs (4.50 per set) in matches vs. Georgia and at No. 18 Kentucky. She has paced the Tigers in digs in 22 of 27 matches this season. Ethridge’s season total of 416 digs is just 16 away from cracking the top-10 in single-season digs in Mizzou Volleyball history. Additionally, her 3.92 digs per set for the season already rank in the top-10 in single season digs per set.gostino directed Florida’s offense to two outings where the Gators hit above .400 as a team, their fifth and sixth matches in conference play above a .400 clip. She entered UF’s top-10 career assists list this weekend, averaging 15.00 assists per set against the Tide and Vols — with her 2,429 career assists as a Gator, currently No. 9 all-time in Florida’s record book. Under Dagostino’s guidance, Florida notched its 14th and 15th sweeps of the 2015 campaign this weekend and has swept 10 of its last 12 matches. She is tied atop the SEC standings with 11.75 assists per set in conference play and ranked 17th in country entering the weekend in assists per set.

Munlyn recorded 17 kills on a .516 hitting percentage and seven total blocks this past weekend. She averaged 2.12 kills and 2.56 points per set as Missouri picked up wins over Georgia and No. 18 Kentucky. Munlyn’s .727 hitting percentage (nine kills) against the Bulldogs marked a career-high. Two days later at Kentucky, she had eight kills on .400 hitting and five total blocks. Munlyn has hit over .400 in a match 11 times this season for the Tigers. She is only one of two freshmen in the SEC to be in the top-10 in both hitting percentage (.362) and blocks per set (1.01).

Missouri Valley

Southern Illinois sophomore outside Andrea Estrada was the Valley offensive POW, Wichita State sophomore middle Abbie Lehman was the defensive POW, and Illinois State middle Ali Line was top freshman.

In the Salukis’ sweep over Illinois State, Estrada had 24 kills and only five errors on 47 attempts for a .404 attack efficiency. Prior to Friday’s match, no Saluki had hit more than 14 kills in a three set match this season. She also added two aces, two blocks and three digs to the victory. Estrada continued with another strong performance on Saturday, posting 19 kills, seven digs, three blocks and an ace. Overall, Estrada averaged 6.14 kills per set on the weekend at a .348 clip and finished with 10 digs, five blocks and three aces.

Lehman led the Shockers to two road wins over the weekend. She averaged 1.62 blocks, 2.81 points and 1.88 kills per set, while hitting .333. In the five-set win at Loyola, she had a match-high seven blocks along with 11 kills and hit .310. In the three-set win at Bradley, she had a match–high six blocks along with four kills and an assist and hit .400.

Line had 3.33 kills per set and hit .444.

Big West

Nikki Taylor of Hawai‘i, Emilia Petrachi of UC Santa Barbara, and Maddie Hubbell of UC Riverside took home the honors.

Taylor had 21 kills against UC Davis and the junior also had five blocks to be named offensive POW. Petrachi had back-to-back 20-dig matches as top freshman. And Gathers got defensive honors as the league’s digs leader had 28 in one match and 12 in another.

Mountain West

The complete MW release includes the POWs, which this week are Boise State sophomore outside Sierra Nobley and Utah State junior libero Hannah Gleason.

Nobley averaged 4.17 kills and 2.67 aces to be offensive POW. Gleason not only averaged 4.89 digs per set, but in three matches was errorless in 46 receive attempts.

Atlantic 10

George Washington junior Chidima Osuchukwu was named A10 POW, Dayton senior Janna Krafka was defensive POW, and Davidson freshman Sabrina Shepherd was top rookie.

Osuchukwu had 23 kills and 10 blocks. Krafka had her sixth 20-plus dig match of the season, while Shepherd had 25 kills in two matches.

Atlantic Sun

North Florida’s Courtney Miller was joined by Jacksonville’s Mayara Prestes and Lipscomb’s Carlyle Nusbaum as the final Atlantic Sun POWs.

Miller, a sophomore outside, averaged 4.50 kills per set last week and hit .360 in a victory over Kennesaw State and then had 14 kills and a .290 hitting percentage against USC Upstate. She also added nine total digs and two blocks.

Prestes was defensive POW for the fourth time this season. The senior libero had 58 digs in two matches.

Nussbaum’s week included 21 kills against Florida Gulf Coast.

American Athletic Conference

AAC honors went to Houston freshman outside hitter Brookah Palmer on offense and SMU junior libero Morgan Heise on defense.

Palmer averaged 5.22 kills and hit .322. Heise had 54 digs in two matches.

MAC

The MAC East offensive POW was Kent State junior middle Drew Norberg, while the East defensive POW was Ohio senior libero Meredith Ashy.

Norberg had 3.75 points per set as the Golden Flashes swept both their opponents to clinch a share of their first MAC East Division title in program history. Norberg had18 kills without any errors for a .621 hitting percentage while adding eight blocks. Ashy had 38 digs.

On the West side, there were co-offensive POWs, Cassie Hunt, a freshman middle for Eastern Michigan, and  T’ara Austin, a junior outside for Northern Illinois. The West defensive POW was Corynne Smith, a senior libero for Eastern Michigan.

Hunt averaged 4.33 kills per set. Smith had 55 digs in two victories.

MAAC

Xavier College junior middle Megan O’Sullivan was the POW after hitting .500 with 33 kills. Taylor Rudee, a freshman, was libero of the week, while Iona outside Claire Archibald was rookie of the week.

Southland Conference

Central Arkansas senior outside hitter Heather Schnars was offensive POW, while while Texas A&M-Corpus Christi sophomore libero Kate Klepetka won defensive honors.

Sun Belt Conference

The SBC offensive player is Little Rock junior middle Carolee Dillard. The defensive POW is senior teammate Priscila Almeida, a libero. The setter, as usual, Arkansas State junior Mallory Warrington, and the freshman Georgia State setter Sarah Renner.

Dillard had 19 kills and hit .607 against App State and added four blocks.

Almeida had 27 digs against App State at 501 is just four away from the school record.

Warrington was her usual self, while Renner not only set well but had 14 digs and a couple of block assists.

America East

And the winners are: Demi Muses, a junior middle for New Hampshire, as POW. The setter was another UNH junior, Keelin Severtson. The rookie was UMBC freshman outside Maddie Schneider, while the defensive player was Albany freshman libero Nicole Otero, who seemingly won the award all season.

Big Sky

The league honors just one player and for the final one of the season the award went to Northern Colorado junior setter Ashley Guthrie. She not only averaged 11.77 assists, but also 4 digs.

Conference USA

It was all Texas in some or fashion. The offensive POW was Dajana Boskovic, a junior outside who may be from Bosnia and Herzegovenia, but she plays for UTSA.

The defensive player was Holy Milam, a sophomore middle for North Texas. The setter was teammate Amy Henard, a junior who, like Milam, is from Texas. And the freshman was UTSA setter Amanda Gonzalez, another Texan.

Ohio Valley

Tennessee Tech senior opposite Cody Dodd had 49 kills in nine sets and was offensive POW. Stephanie Wallace, a senior libero for Tennessee State, won defensive honors for having 57 digs in two matches. The setter honor was shared between Tennessee Tech junior Sharon Anderson and Tennessee State sophomore Samantha Beltran. The newcomer was Tennessee State junior outside Chloe Watson, who had 23 digs and 23 kills.

Summit

South Dakota sophomore setter Brittany Jessen was named offensive POW for having two double-doubles. The defensive award went to IPFW junior libero Olivia Hahn, who won for the third time this season whose week included 33 digs against South Dakota.

Horizon League

Forget a POW, the Horizon has season winners: UIC senior Stephenee Yancy is the POY, player of the year, while Green Bay’s Jillian Bauer was named defensive POY, Oakland’s Ciara Schultz as SOY (setter of the year) and Northern Kentucky’s Haley Libs, who was top freshman.

who collected Freshman of the Year honors.

Big East

Meghan Niemann, a junior right side for Marquette, was the POW, while Jaali Winters, an outside for Creighton, was the freshman of the week.

Niemann averaged 3.0 kills and 1.5 blocks, while Winters had two double-doubles, including her 12th consecutive match with 10 or more kills.

MEAC

Delaware State senior Jasmine Jackson, a senior outside, had 52 kills, 30 digs and 16 aces in three matches and was named POW. Maryland Eastern Shore’s Lucia Babic was rookie of the week after getting 30 kills, 23 digs and five blocks.

Ivy League

The honors went to Princeton junior outside Cara Mattaliano, who was overall POW, and teammate Claire Nussbaum, a freshman setter who was rookie of the week.

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