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College: Bestows National Player, Freshman, Unsung Hero and Team of the Week Honors

The 2018 season may be winding down, but we’re staying consistent, with seven players and four teams to recognize this week for national honors.

Player of the Week, Power 5

Mikaela Foecke, OH, Nebraska – Twice the Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four, the senior from Iowa had a big week on the road for the Huskers. In a Wednesday sweep at the University of Iowa, Foecke recorded 13 kills on .344 hitting and added eight digs, three blocks and an ace. She followed that up on Saturday with 22 kills on .465 hitting, plus eight digs, five blocks and an ace in a four-set win over Michigan. Foecke also passed the 1,500 career kills mark, becoming only the eighth Nebraska player to eclipse that standard.

Runner up: Emily Stroup, OH, Ole Miss
Last week’s winner: Payton Caffrey, OH, Florida State

Player of the Week, Non-Power 5

Madison Martin, libero, Charleston Southern – The Bucs were picked last in the Big South before the season but rallied with two road wins to close conference play to snag the sixth and final spot in the conference tournament. Martin, a senior, was instrumental in those wins. The Big South Defensive POW had 23 digs, four assists and an ace in a four-set win at Hampton on Friday to open the weekend. One day later against Campbell in a win-or-else match, Martin contributed 31 digs, six assists and an ace in another four-set road win. Martin is Charleston Southern’s all-time career digs leader.

Runner up: Kirstie Hillyer, MB, Colorado State
Last week’s winner: Cortney VanLiew, OH, Florida Gulf Coast

Player of the Week, Non-Division I

Nicole Hilton, MB, Wesleyan University – Hilton was named MVP of the Providence Regional as the Cardinals won three times in it, including an upset of national No. 2 Johnson & Wales, to advance to the eight-team NCAA Division III national tournament. The 2017 NESCAC Player of the Year had 12 kills and five blocks in an opening-round win over Kean and added 10 kills with zero errors and three blocks in a sweep of Springfield. But the junior saved her best for last. Host Johnson & Wales was 33-1 coming into the contest and had early in the season defeated the defending Division III national champs. Hilton had 20 kills on .514 hitting in the four-set win, adding two blocks.

Runner up: Madelyn Pashibin, MB, Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Last week’s winner: Genesis Sheridan, MB, Iowa Western Community College

Freshman of the Week, Power 5

Allegra Rivas, libero, Maryland – Rivas was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for the third time after coming up huge for the Terps in road sweeps over Ohio State and national-ranked Michigan. The native Texan had 24 digs over three sets on Wednesday in the win over Michigan, the most digs by a freshman in a three-set match since 2014. Rivas collected a team-high eight digs, with five assists, in the win over the Buckeyes.

Runner up: Jhenna Gabriel, S, Texas
Last week’s winner: Claire Hoffman, OH, Washington

Freshman of the Week, Non-Power 5

Dana Axner, libero, Florida Gulf Coast – Axner was named ASUN Freshman of the Week for a record sixth time after averaging 6.14 digs per set over eight sets in two wins for the league-champion Eagles last week. The Ohio native had a career-high 27 digs in Tuesday’s four-set win over Stetson then added 22 digs, with five assists and two aces, as FGCU overcame Liberty on Saturday.

Runner up: Alexis Rich, S, Fairfield
Last week’s winner: Anilee Sher, S, Rider

Freshman of the Week, Non-Division I

Emily Mohs
, OH, Thomas More – Mohs had 48 kills over 10 sets as the Saints advanced to an NCAA Div. III regional final before falling in four sets to national No. 6 Juniata College. Mohs recently was named AVCA Division III Freshman of the Year after recording 462 kills and 74 total blocks for Thomas More.

Runner up: Angel Oliver, MB, Wilmington University
Last week’s winner: Rachel Verdun, S, Parkland College

Unsung Hero of the Week

Travis Hudson
, head coach, Western Kentucky – Hudson is coming to the aid of leukemia-stricken alumna Alyssa Cavanaugh by offering to pay a semester’s tuition for any student on campus who registers to be a bone marrow donor and comes back as a match for his former player. Cavanaugh was Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2014 and the first All-America in WKU history. Hudson’s offer comes just seven months after he suffered a “widow maker” heart attack that nearly took his life.

Runner up: Mina Grant, libero, Hawaii Hilo (broke school’s career digs record in the fifth set of the final match of the season. Grant played the last 10 matches of 2018 with a torn labrum and partially-dislocated shoulder and needed to average 17 digs per match over the final 10 to set the record).
Last week’s winner: Erica Cappellino, OH/DS, UMass Lowell

Team of the Week, Division I

Charleston Southern – The Bucs won two matches they absolutely had to have last week to lock down the sixth and final spot in the Big South tournament. On Saturday, playing at Campbell in what amounted to tournament elimination for the loser, Charleston Southern dropped the first set before roaring back to win the next three. The key was defense, with Madison Martin supplying it behind the line and Caitlyn Michalski proving to be a blocking force at the net.

Team of the Week, Non-Division I

University of Providence
(formerly, University of Great Falls) – The Argos entered the Frontier Conference tournament ranked No. 20 in the country in the NAIA and as the No. 2 seed. They won three matches, including a Saturday night win over No. 8 Rocky Mountain College to claim their first-ever conference championship. Providence had lost the previous two times versus Rocky Mountain. The Argos were sparked by the return to the lineup of junior OH Kelsey Shaver, who missed the previous two matches due to concussion. In the 3-1 victory in the semifinals, Shaver had 22 kills, hitting .475, with three aces, and 19 digs. In the finals, she amassed 18 kills, 18 digs and three blocks in the four-set win.

Providence Argos. Photo by Wally Feldt, Frontier Conference SID

Upset of the Week, Division I

Maryland over Michigan in three on Nov. 7.

The Terps were two games under .500 in conference play going to national No. 16 Michigan for a mid-week match. Not only did Maryland pull off the upset, Adam Hughes’ team won in straight sets in what was hailed as a “complete team performance.” Maryland’s win was the first on the road over a ranked team in program history.

Two freshmen, Rainelle Jones and Katie Meyers, helped the cause by combining for 11 blocks as Maryland dominated the net. Another freshman, libero Allegra Rivas, was a beast in the backcourt. Two sophomores, OH Erika Pritchard and setter Nicole Alford, also had strong performances in the upset win.

Upset of the Week, non-Division I

Saint Anselm College over New Haven in three on Nov. 6.

Saint Anselm defeated the University of New Haven in the quarterfinals of the Northeast-10 Conference playoff tournament. New Haven came into that match as the No. 1 seed in the conference and the Northeast Region, whereas Saint Anselm was the lowest seed at No. 8 and had lost to New Haven in five just three days before in the regular-season finale. Not only did Saint Anselm come out victorious, the team did so in straight sets AT the University of New Haven and its electric atmosphere.

Saint Anselm players hold up eight fingers to signify their seed before upsetting top-seeded New Haven. Photo by Jeff Sollows


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. In the alternative, there is a form they can complete at this link:

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