College News

College: National Player and Team of the Week Honors Bestowed recognizes seven players and four teams this week for national honors as a result of an exciting second week of volleyball action.

Player of the Week, Power 5

Grace Loberg, OH, Wisconsin – The 6-3 sophomore was instrumental to Wisconsin’s 3-1 win over previously-undefeated Texas on Friday night. The B1G Ten POW recorded her second straight double-double of the season against the Longhorns, pairing a career-high 18 digs with 19 kills, just one off of her career best. Loberg also contributed three assists and two blocks in the match and hit .457 in the win, which propelled the Badgers to No. 1 in the College Top 64 this week. Loberg leads Wisconsin in kills per set and is second in digs per set after starting only three matches as a freshman in 2017.

Runner up: Taylor Mims, OH, Washington State
Last week’s winner:
Kayla Lund, RS, Pittsburgh

Player of the Week, Non-Power 5

Jordan Thompson, OH, Cincinnati – The Bearcats earned impressive wins this week over Colorado State, TCU and Florida State and Thompson, who sat out the 2017 season with a knee injury, was front and center in all of them. The redshirt junior averaged 6.57 kills per set over the three matches, including 31 kills in the win over Colorado State, the first time in six years a Cincinnati player had more than 30 kills in a match. Thompson added 29 kills in the win over TCU and a career-high 32 kills to close out the weekend in the win over FSU. What’s more, Thompson had double figure dig totals in each of the matches. She was named MVP of the Colorado State Tournament and was recognized as VolleyMob National POW.

Runner up: Devon Peterkin, OH, Princeton
Last week’s winner:
Carlyle Nusbaum, OH, Lipscomb

Player of the Week, Non-Division I

Brylee Frank, S, Johnson & Wales – The junior setter recorded the first triple-double in school history – 41 assists, 11 kills and 14 digs – in Friday’s 3-2 win on the West Coast versus defending Division III national champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Over four matches, in which the Wildcats from Rhode Island went 3-1, Frank averaged more than 10 assists and three digs and almost two kills per set and recorded at least a double-double in all four matches. Frank also was recognized as GNAC POW and AVCA Division III Player of the Week.

Brylee Frank dishes for Johnson & Wales

Runner up:  Julianne Jackson, OH, Nebraska-Kearney

Freshman of the Week, Power 5

Naya Gros, MB, Michigan State – Gros was named MVP of the Carolina Classic over the weekend. She hit .489 over three matches, with a career-high 15 kills in the tournament finale win over host North Carolina. Gros added 13 total blocks over the weekend. The freshman from Louisiana has now made the All-Tournament Team on consecutive weekends.

Runner up: ‘elan McCall, OH, TCU
Last week’s winner: Raquel Lazaro Castellanos, S, USC

Freshman of the Week, Non-Power 5

Kazna Tarawhiti, OH, Utah Valley University – Tarawhiti was named Western Athletic Conference Offensive POW after averaging 4.79 kills per set with double digit totals in each of the Wolverines’ four matches. UVU went 3-1 for the week, losing only to nationally-ranked Oregon. The Wolverines opened the week with a 3-1 home win over Idaho State, a match in which Tarawhiti recorded a double-double with 19 kills and 10 digs.

Runner up: Amara Anderson, S, Troy
Last week’s winner:
Katie Forsythe, libero, Loyola Maryland

Freshman of the Week, Non-Division I

Amber Rowoldt
, OH, Palm Beach Atlantic –  Rowoldt had 66 kills, 40 digs, six blocks and six aces as the Sailfish went 4-0 over the weekend to capture the Lee Holiday Inn Express Classic. Rowoldt had double-doubles in the final three matches for PBA, which improved to 8-0 and is ranked fourth nationally in Division II.

Runner up: Isabella Vasquez, OH, Colorado College

Unsung Hero of the Week

Hannah Brister
, RS/OH, Northwestern StateBrister, a sophomore, started the season on the right side for the Demons but last week, during the second match of the Redhawk Invitational at Southeast Missouri, she made the move to six-rotation outside hitter. Brister, who had amassed four digs total over her first three matches played, contributed nine along with 14 kills in the five-set win over Louisiana Monroe then totaled 21 kills and 25 digs in the four-set win over SEMO that clinched the tourney title. What’s more, she also passed a 2.4 after making the move to the outside!

Runner up: Jordan Pingel, L, UCF
Last week’s winner:
Jelena Slijepcevic

Team of the Week, Division I

Cincinnati – The Bearcats won three matches over nationally-ranked teams at Colorado State over the weekend. Cincinnati started its winning ways with a 3-1 win over the host school, ranked No. 30 in the College Top 64; then followed up with five-set victories over No. 36 TCU and No. 33 Florida State. Besides National Non-Power 5 POW Jordan Thompson, Cincinnati got strong efforts on the weekend from OH Erica Kostelac and seniors Abby Williams, Carly Nolan and Jasmine Jones. The team won two matches with its regular setter, Jade Tingelhoff, and a third with freshman Armania Heckenmueller at the controls.

Said head coach Molly Alvey in comments posted on the team website: “What a weekend of physical demands and mental demands. I’m most impressed with how mentally we kept our composure and stayed in every single match and competed. Even in moments we were up, we did a great job of controlling the match. In moments we were down, we did a great job of never stepping away from the match. We were in it at all times.”

Team of the Week, Non-Division I

Texas A&M Commerce
– The Lions made the AVCA Division II Top 25 for the first time in 29 years after defeating defending national champion Concordia St. Paul and two other nationally-ranked teams, Lewis and Regis, as part of a 3-1 weekend at the Colorado Premier Challenge hosted by Metro State.

Upset of the Week, Division I

UCF over undefeated and national top 10 USC.

UCF was 2-2 heading into Saturday’s match against a USC team that not only was 4-0, its four wins had come against national powers Florida, Kentucky, Creighton and Northern Iowa. It’s a shame that only slightly more than 200 people were in attendance in Orlando because the Knights pulled off the shocker, winning in four sets over the team where UCF head coach Todd Dagenais assisted before taking over the Knights’ program in 2008. Kristina Fisher had 20 kills, freshman McKenna Melville added 15 kills and 13 digs, senior Jordan Pingel contributed 24 digs and exceptional passing and Erin Olson had 28 assists and 22 digs in the win.

“We wanted to serve them as tough as we could and be unrelenting on defense,” said Dagenais. “Then we wanted to attack from every area we possibly could, as their experience, size and length has to be moved around.”

Dagenais added that his young team, which has only one senior and just two juniors on the entire roster, will be inconsistent but can be world beaters when on.

“Our expectations with such a young team are simply to get better each day and match,” he said. “The team has bought into ‘the process’ and just allowing the outcome to happen.  Honestly the entire team played to their potential in that match. Everyone did their own part to put us in a position to win.”

Upset of the Week, non-Division I

Johnson & Wales over Division III No. 1 and defending national champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

Johnson & Wales, a Rhode Island school that was undefeated in 2017 before losing in the NCAA Division III quarterfinals, traveled across the country for the Pacific Coast Classic in Southern California. After losing in four sets on Friday to a scrappy Cal Lutheran team, the Wildcats had to take on No. 1 and defending national champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on the Athenas’ home court and CMS’ first match of the day. Johnson & Wales rallied to win the fourth and fifth sets by a 40-16 margin. It was the first time any program at Johnson & Wales defeated the number one team in the country. JWU limited CMS to a .113 hitting percentage and outdug the champs 80-66. Four Wildcats had 10 or more kills – topped by Maria Coniglio’s match-high 20 – and four more had 10 or more digs – led by Elyssa Nicolas’ 25.


The goal every week is to confer national recognition as follows:

*Three National Players of the Week, one from a Power 5 Conference (ACC, SEC, Pac-12, B1G Ten, Big 12), one from a Non-Power 5 Conference in Division I and one from a Non-Division I Conference.

*Three National Freshmen of the Week, one from a Power 5 Conference, one from a Non-Power 5 Conference in Division I and one from a Non-Division I Conference.

*One Unsung Hero of the Week.

*Two Teams of the Week, one from Division I and one from a Non-Division I Conference.

*Two Upsets of the Week, one in Division I and one in Non-Division I.

Any coaches or SIDs wishing to nominate in any of the categories in the ensuing weeks may email by Tuesday evening.




  1. Avatar

    Bill Grady

    September 6, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    Jordan Thompson’s performance was superb and I’m happy you saluted her…but Ronnie Jones-Perry, going against the top team, Stanford, with maybe the toughest block in the nation, was practically other-worldly. –It is on YouTube, worth watching, btw. This woman can SKY at the net. Well deserving of her National player of the week award.

  2. Avatar

    John Tawa

    September 6, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Agreed. However, I have determined not to duplicate what the AVCA does with its DI NPOW. Too many deserving players out there…

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