MVP Brachvogel Headlines Players of the Week
SPU's Sarah Brachvogel was named MVP of the Cougar Classic after helping the Falcons to a perfect 4-0 record in California.
SPU's Sarah Brachvogel was named MVP of the Cougar Classic after helping the Falcons to a perfect 4-0 record in California.

Monday, September 11, 2023
by Evan O'Kelly

PORTLAND, Ore. – Headline performances from a pair of volleyball teams that went undefeated at their tournaments over the weekend topped the latest Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week list which was announced on Monday.

Seattle Pacific’s Sarah Brachvogel was named volleyball offensive player of the week after earning MVP at the Cougar Classic at Cal State San Marcos, and Central Washington’s Hannah Stires earned defensive player of the week after all-tournament mention at the Up North Classic in Duluth, Minn. Both the Falcons and Wildcats posted perfect 4-0 records on the weekend.

It was another undefeated weekend for the Western Oregon women’s soccer team, which swept the player of the week awards. Chloe Smith had her second straight brace and earned her second straight offensive player of the week honor, while goalkeeper Sophia Pierce came up big in both matches to claim her first defensive player of the week award this season.

In cross country, Saint Martin’s stole the show with the top finishers from the conference on both the women’s and men’s sides at the Ash Creek Collegiate meet in Monmouth, Ore.


Offensive: Sarah Brachvogel, Seattle Pacific

Brachvogel was named the Most Valuable Player of the Cougar Classic as she had by far the best week of her career in helping the Falcons go 4-0, the only undefeated team in the tournament. She recorded 59 kills on .241 hitting, 34 digs, seven blocks and three service aces. Her kills total included a career-high 23 in Friday’s 3-2 victory against Concordia Irvine in the tournament opener. She hit .321 in that match and came up with 11 digs for her second career double-double. Brachvogel had another double-double of 14 kills and 11 digs in the next match, a 3-0 sweep of host Cal State San Marcos. She also had three blocks in that match. On Saturday, she had 15 kills in a 3-1 victory against St. Edward’s, and eight more on .316 hitting in a 3-0 sweep of Colorado School of Mines, which was receiving votes in last week’s national poll. Through two weeks, Brachvogel is No. 3 in the GNAC in kills per set at 3.48 and No. 20 in hitting at .255. 

Also Nominated: Nicole Blue, UAA; Lily Stewart, UAF; Tia Andaya, CWU, Paiten Langston, MSUB; Sophie Lachapelle, SFU; Madison Hornback, SOU; Delaney Speer, WWU.

Defensive: Hannah Stires, Central Washington

Stires led all GNAC players last week with 5.29 digs per set, helping propel the Wildcats to the most impressive wins the conference has seen this season. Stires racked up a season high 26 digs in CWU’s dramatic five-set win over No. 5 St. Cloud State on Saturday, and followed that with 23 digs in the Wildcats’ three-set win over Michigan Tech to extend their winning streak to six matches. Stires has reached double figures in digs in 7 of 8 matches this season and ranks second in the conference with 4.34 digs per set.

Also Nominated: Madison Galloway, UAA; Grace Steurer, UAF; Christine Funk, MSUB; Hannah Hair, SPU, Macyn Unger, SFU; Emily Vossenkuhl, WWU.


Offensive: Raymundo Mendez, Seattle Pacific

Mendez filled up the stat sheet for the Falcons, racking up six total points with a pair of goals and a pair of assists. The junior from Yakima, Wash., was efficient with his chances, scoring on two of the three shots he took on the weekend. He started his week with a goal and an assist in SPU’s 4-3 loss at Point Loma, before repeating the feat in the team’s 4-3 win at Concordia Irvine. The transfer from Columbia Basin College put his name onto the GNAC Newcomer of the Year watch list and enters this week tied for second in the conference with three goals.

Also Nominated: Ty Vohland, MSUB; Raoul Barragan, NNU; Albin Jonsson, WWU.

Defensive: Brandon Locke, Western Washington

Locke was instrumental in the Vikings’ 3-1 win at Concordia Irvine Thursday, making three saves to earn his first victory of the season. The senior from Federal Way, Wash., followed with three more denials in the Vikings’ tough 1-0 loss at Point Loma on Saturday. Locke has totaled 11 saves this season and ranks third in the conference with a goals against average of 1.25.


Offensive: Chloe Smith, Western Oregon

Smith made it two weeks in a row with a brace, this time doing so in dramatic fashion with a last-minute, game-winning goal against UC Colorado Springs. Smith got the Wolves off to a hot start with a goal in the fifth minute, before delivering her second game-winning finish of the 2023 campaign. Smith leads the conference in every offensive statistical category including goals with four.

Also Nominated: Paige Savage, CWU; Kaari Little, MSUB; Moira MacKay, SPU; Mie Cairns, WWU.

Defensive: Sophia Pierce, Western Oregon

It took a penalty kick save by Pierce to make Smith’s goal a game-winner, as the junior from Missoula, Mont., sprung into action shortly after Smith’s first finish against the Mountain Lions. Pierce’s stop in the 10th minute kept the lead in her team’s hands and she finished with three saves in the victory. Pierce followed with her second shutout of the year, making two more saves in the Wolves’ scoreless draw at Cal Poly Humboldt. Pierce holds a goals against average of 0.29 having allowed just one finish in four matches this season.

Also Nominated: Sunny Bennion, MSUB; Bailey Blancett, NNU; Landry Schoennauer, SPU, Jayden Nguyen, WWU.


Female Runner of the Week: Cassidy Walchak-Sloan, Saint Martin’s

Kicking off her junior season with a bang, Walchak-Sloan was the conference’s top finisher at the Ash Creek Collegiate on Friday with a 5k time of 17:57.7. That slotted her third among a field of 60 competitors, as last year’s sixth-place GNAC Championships finisher earned her first runner of the week honor this season. Walchak-Sloan’s effort helped the Saints finish second to Chico State in the team standings as they totaled 59 points.

Also Nominated: Kendall Kramer, UAF; Alahna Lien, MSUB; Caitlin Heldt, WOU.

Male Runner of the Week: Isaac Cortes, Saint Martin’s

The conference’s top finisher on the men’s side, Cortes clocked a 6k time of 18:16.6 to place ninth among a field of 87 runners on the Ash Creek Preserve trail. It was a collegiate 6k PR for the junior who will look to build upon a 12th-place finish at last year’s GNAC Championships.

Also Nominated: Andrew Rush, MSUB; Easton Pomrankey, WOU.