We give thanks a day early by recognizing seven players and four teams who made us smile with outstanding performances this past week.
Player of the Week, Power 5
Naghede Abu, MB, Colorado – The 6-4 senior, who missed the first three weeks of the season recovering from injury, led the Buffs to two five-set road wins over Oregon State and nationally-ranked Oregon. She finished the week with 27 kills, hitting .355, and had 21 total blocks, including a school-record 17 in the win over Oregon State.
Runners up: Alyse Ford, OH, Arizona State and Leah Edmond, OH, Kentucky
Last week’s winner: Mikaela Foecke, OH, Nebraska
Player of the Week, Non-Power 5
Cassie Haut, MB, Eastern Michigan – The 6-2 redshirt junior was named MAC Tournament MVP after leading the Eagles, as the fifth seed, to their first-ever tournament title and a berth in the NCAA tournament. Haut averaged more than four kills per set and hit .416 over four matches for EMU, which avenged regular-season losses to fourth-seeded Buffalo, top-seeded Bowling Green and second-seeded Miami (Ohio) on successive days. Haut had 21 kills in the quarterfinal win over Buffalo and followed up with 16 kills versus Bowling Green and 19 in the championship win over Miami. Haut also led all Eagle players with eight service aces for the tournament and added 11 blocks and 16 digs.
Runner up: Maddi Sgattoni, OH, Navy
Last week’s winner: Madison Martin, libero, Charleston Southern
Player of the Week, Non-Division I
Mady Arles, S, Emory – The senior setter was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Division III championships after dishing out 35 assists while adding five kills, a team-high three service aces and five digs in a sweep of No. 1 Calvin College in the national championship match on Saturday. The title was the second all-time for the Eagles, who also defeated Ithica and Juniata in the eight-team tournament. Arles averaged almost 11 assists per set over the three matches.
Runner up: Jana Potic, OH, American International College
Last week’s winner: Nicole Hilton, MB, Wesleyan University
Freshman of the Week, Power 5
‘elan McCall, OH, TCU – McCall has missed six matches this year. The Horned Frogs are 1-5 in those matches, 14-6 in all others. McCall was on the floor this past week and the result was two wins, including a sweep of highly-regarded Kansas. Playing at West Virginia last Wednesday, McCall was at her absolute finest. The native Texan had 22 kills against just one error and 14 digs in a four-set TCU win. Three days later, at home versus the Jayhawks, McCall produced 16 kills and 16 digs over three sets. She was named Big 12 Conference Player of the Week.
Runner up: Alli Stumler, OH, Kentucky
Last week’s winner: Allegra Rivas, libero, Maryland
Freshman of the Week, Non-Power 5
Lauren Deaton, OH, Samford – Deaton, the Southern Conference’s Player of the Year, had 17 kills and 16 digs as the Bulldogs upended favored East Tennessee State to win the SoCon title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Deaton finished with 43 kills and 49 digs over 11 sets in the conference tourney.
Runner up: Olivia Lovenberg, S, UCSB
Last week’s winner: Dana Axner, libero, Florida Gulf Coast
Freshman of the Week, Non-Division I
Lauren Kersey, RS, Tarleton State – Kersey had 10 kills and four blocks on Saturday as the TexAnns got by Texas A&M Commerce to capture their first NCAA Division II regional title in program history. The Oklahoma native also had 12 kills and hit .476 in the regional opener and added seven kills against just one error plus two blocks in the regional semifinal win. Kersey was named to the All-Regional team.
Runner up: Claudia Rivera, libero, Tampa
Last week’s winner: Emily Mohs, OH, Thomas More
Unsung Hero of the Week
Alli Papesh, OH, Dayton – On the day Papesh was selected as Rookie of the Year for the Atlantic 10 Conference, the freshman from Minooka, Illinois sprained her ankle in practice. Questionable to play in the conference semifinals and finals, she toughed it out through a four-set match versus La Salle on Saturday and a five-set marathon win over VCU on Sunday for the conference title. She finished with 25 kills, 11 digs and six blocks overthose two matches while playing at far less than 100 percent.
Runner up: Megan Klavitter, libero, Chicago State
Last week’s winner: Travis Hudson, head coach, Western Kentucky
Team of the Week, Division I
Eastern Michigan – The Eagles qualified for their first-ever NCAA tournament by winning the MAC conference tournament on Sunday as the fifth seed! EMU avenged regular-season losses to fourth-seeded Buffalo, top-seeded Bowling Green and second-seeded Miami (Ohio) on successive days to take the title.
Team of the Week, Non-Division I
Washburn University – Playing in the toughest regional in NCAA Division II, the Ichabods outlasted former national No. 1 Northern State in their first match, then knocked off national top 10 Minnesota Duluth before defeating Concordia-St. Paul, the winner of nine of the past 11 national titles, to advance to the national championship tournament. Washburn was led by setter Shayla Conner and attackers Erica Montgomery, Genna Berg and Allison Maxwell.
Upset of the Week, Division I
Evansville over nationally-ranked Northern Iowa in five on Friday.
History, past and present, suggested that Evansville had no chance in Friday’s match against UNI. The Purple Aces were 1-50 all-time versus the Panthers and were suffering through a difficult season (9-20 overall) that included a 3-13 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference. UNI, on the other hand, was a traditional conference power with 15 conference tournament titles and a 15-1 conference mark in 2018.
None of that mattered on this night, as Alondra Vazquez set a career high with 25 kills and added 25 digs as Evansville rallied from a 2-1 deficit to stun the Panthers in five sets.
Upset of the Week, non-Division I
Holy Family University over New Haven in four on Friday.
For the second straight week it’s New Haven on the wrong end of the Upset of the Week. Seeded first in an NCAA Division II regional, the Chargers fell to fifth-seeded Holy Family behind 24 kills and 23 digs from Chase Wassel. Though the Tigers lost to AIC the next day in the regional final, snapping a 23-match winning streak, they will go down as the mos successful team in program history, as their 31 wins on the season is a new school record.