Hawaii Hilo digs up PacWest volleyball treasure
Hawai‘i Hilo digs up PacWest volleyball treasure; Vulcans claim all five major conference awards after posting perfect season
QUEEN CREEK, AZ - A perfect 14-0 season and a league championship led to a sweep of all five major awards as the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo dominated the 2007 All-Pacific West Conference honors.
Sophomore middle hitter Fabiane Seben (Caxias do Sul, Brazil/Guimaraes - # 5 in photo) was chosen the PacWest Player of the Year, while sophomore Laura Rodriguez (Brownsville, TX/Homer Hanna) was named the Libero of the Year.
Rookie outside hitter Hillary Hurley (Anderson, CA/Enterprise) earned Freshman of the Year accolades and sophomore middle blocker Lauren Bayer (San Antonio, TX/William Howard Taft #9 in photo) was selected as the Newcomer of the Year.
Molding all of this talent was first-year mentor Dr. Bruce Atkinson, a 1993 graduate of BYU-Hawai‘i who was anointed the 2007 PacWest Volleyball Coach of the Year.
The frightening aspect of this post-season sweep resides in the fact that Atkinson's five hardware-toting student-athletes will be back for at least two more years.
Hurley, Rodriguez and Seben also claimed All-PacWest First Team honors, while Bayer, sophomore setter Desiree Agader (Kekaha, HI/Waimea) and sophomore outside hitter Josimara Pinheiro (Taiaqc, Brazil) landed on the Second Team.
Athletes from each of the teams are nominated for All-PacWest and the player of the year awards by their head coach or a representative from their school. The head coach or designated representative also votes for the All-PacWest squad.
The only award not voted upon is coach of the year which is automatically presented to the head coach of the PacWest Champion.
Seben was one of the most feared players in the PacWest this year. She ranked third in points per game (4.48) and led the league in overall scoring with 434 points. She ranked second in the PacWest in blocks per game (1.16), fifth in hitting percentage (.307), ninth in kills per game (3.21) and fourth in service aces per game (0.57).
Rodriguez was the number one defensive player in the PacWest, amassing a league-high 519 digs while heading the conference in digs per game (5.24).
Bayer, meanwhile, ranked fourth in the PacWest in blocks per game (1.11), was tied for fifth in total blocks (103), and hit .311 to rank fourth.
Hurley made the most of her rookie campaign by amassing 408.5 points, the fourth-best in the PacWest this year. She averaged 4.39 points per game, ranking ninth in aces per game (0.40) and third in kills per game (3.69).
Pinheiro squeezed into the Top 10 ranking in the PacWest in the category of points per game. She finished the year in 10th with a 3.89 per game average, while her 3.37 kills per contest ranked eighth in the league.
Agader rounded out the Vulcan selections for All-PacWest after she topped the conference in assists (1012) and assists per game (12.65).
BYU-Hawai‘i placed three players on the All-PacWest squad, including a pair on the First Team in junior outside hitter Noelle Filimoeatu (Lindon, UT/Timpanogos) and sophomore setter LeeAnn Mapu (Laie, Oahu, HI/Kahuku). Both players are repeat First Team selections from 2006.
Filimoeatu led the PacWest in scoring average by posting 4.88 points per game. She was number one in kills per game (4.45), second in total kills (376), third in total points (410), sixth in digs per game (3.87) and seventh in total digs (325).
Mapu ranked second in the PacWest in hitting with a .311 average, while her 11.44 assists per game average was also good enough for second. She ranked third in total assists (961).
Junior middle blocker Faylynn Merrick (Sauk Rapids, MN/Sauk Rapids Rice) was named All-PacWest Second Team for the second straight year. She ranked sixth in the PacWest in hitting (.303).
Chaminade landed three players on the All-Conference list, including junior outside hitter Trina Kauliakamoa (Las Vegas, NV/Palo Verde) who was a repeat First Team choice. She registered 3.67 kills per game to finish fifth in the conference, while her 0.52 service ace average was also good enough for fifth.
Senior middle blocker Evelyn Bluthenthal (Los Angeles, CA/Venice) was named to the Second Team after earning the same honor last year, while freshman outside hitter Samantha Miller (San Bruno, CA/Aragon) was an Honorable Mention selection.
Bluthenthal finished the year with 325 points and a 3.96 points per game average that was ninth-best in the PacWest. She was also ninth in hitting (.275).
Miller placed eighth in service aces per game (0.41), sixth in kills per game (3.51) and seventh in points per game (3.98).
Hawai‘i Pacific freshman middle hitter Kelly Balanay (San Diego, CA/Valhalla) was named to the First Team and junior outside hitter Antje Buskies (Berlin, Germany) earned a place on the Honorable Mention squad thanks to solid seasons.
Balanay was the top hitter in the PacWest with a .328 average, and she ranked 10th in the league in kills per game. Defensively, Balanay wound up sixth in the league with 1.07 blocks per game.
Buskies amassed 328 kills for the year, averaging 3.45 per game to rank seventh in the PacWest. She was also eighth in points per game (3.97).
Grand Canyon ended up with three All-Conference athletes, including 2006 Freshman of the Year Dana Edington (Peoria, AZ/Centennial).
The sophomore outside hitter repeated as a Second Team selection after averaging 3.95 kills per game in 2007. She ranked second in the league in kills per game and was third in total kills with 359.
Senior middle blocker Ashley Bright (Cottonwood, AZ/Mingus) and sophomore outside hitter Whitney Estes (Gardnerville, NV/Douglas) each were named to the Honorable Mention squad for the Antelopes. Bright led the PacWest in blocks per game (1.19) and was second in total blocks (120).
Notre Dame de Namur sophomore Lauren Quach (San Francisco, CA/St. Ignatius College Prep) was the runner-up in the Libero of the Year voting and earned a spot on the All-PacWest Second Team.
She finished the 2007 campaign with 512 digs, the second-highest total in the league, while her 4.41 digs per game average ranked third in the conference.
Dixie State sophomore outside hitter Cami Johnson (Morgan, UT/Morgan) earned an Honorable Mention award. She totaled 376 kills in 2007 to lead the conference, while her 3.69 kills per game mark ranked fourth in the league.
Johnson finished the year with 431.5 points to finish second in the league. Her 4.23 points per game average left her sixth in the PacWest.