Giant-Killing Wildcats Earn Team of the Week Honors
The Central Washington volleyball team huddles around head coach Mario Andaya. The Wildcats sit at 7-3 overall with a 3-1 conference mark after two GNAC wins this week.
The Central Washington volleyball team huddles around head coach Mario Andaya. The Wildcats sit at 7-3 overall with a 3-1 conference mark after two GNAC wins this week.

Monday, September 27, 2021

With two Top-25 teams on the schedule after a 1-1 opening week, outside observers could be forgiven for assuming this would be a tough stretch for Central Washington women’s volleyball. Instead, after two dominant signature wins, the Wildcats are now poised to make a run in the GNAC.

The Wildcats defeated No. 15 Western Washington in four sets on Thursday before downing No. 22 Simon Fraser in a three-set sweep on Saturday. For running the table against nationally-ranked competition, CWU Volleyball has been named the GNAC Team of the Week.

“This was a big weekend on the calendar and to come away with two wins is huge,” head coach Mario Andaya said. “Western Washington and Simon Fraser are top GNAC and regional contenders, so we had to bring our best. I am just grateful to our crowd for bringing the energy this weekend and firing up our team.”

Central Washington remains undefeated at Nicholson Pavilion after this week’s two wins, starting with an in-state rivalry clash with No. 15 Western Washington. The Vikings were flying high after a head-to-head win over Simon Fraser, but Central Washington quickly brought them down to earth with a 25-13 first set win. Although Western Washington rallied to take the second set, CWU opened up another large margin of victory in the third, winning that set 25-15 before sealing the win with a 25-23 fourth set triumph.

Sophomore and GNAC Offensive Player of the Week Tia Andaya recorded her fourth triple-double of the season, notching 16 kills, 26 assists and 14 digs, leading the effort to down the Vikings. Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Kauffman matched Andaya with 16 kills to pace the Wildcats attack. Freshman Marianna Payne chipped in 13 kills, including the final one of the match, while middle blocker Emma Daoud-Hebert had six blocks.

With No. 22 Simon Fraser coming to town next, CWU had an immediate opportunity to prove Thursday’s performance wasn’t a fluke. The Wildcats were in control from the opening whistle, winning 25-17, 25-21, 25-15. Andaya and Kauffman filled up the stat sheet again, with Andaya recording a double-double of 10 kills and 12 assists, while Kauffman led the team with 14 kills. In her Player of the Week-winning performance, Andaya averaged 3.71 kills, 2.79 digs and 5.43 assists per set.

The Wildcats’ defense shined against Simon Fraser, holding SFU to an .091 hitting percentage for the match. Freshman libero and GNAC Defensive Player of the Week Hannah Stires recorded 21 digs and three assists in Saturday’s win while averaging 5.43 digs and 1.14 assists per set for the week.

As a team, CWU outhit their opponents .235 to .142 over seven sets in the two matches. The Wildcats sit in third place in the GNAC at 3-1 and are 7-3 overall. With these two victories plus a Sept. 10 sweep of then-No. 13 St. Cloud State, the Wildcats now have three wins over ranked opponents this season.

Looking ahead, Central Washington will look to extend their GNAC winning streak on Friday when they battle Northwest Nazarene at home.