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Undefeateds Lead Impressive First Weekend Of Net Action
Saint Martin's freshman Tia Allen was named MVP of the Yellowjacket Invitational after she averaged 3.62 kills, 3.31 digs and 0.62 blocks per set in four matches. Photo by Shi Robinson.
Saint Martin's freshman Tia Allen was named MVP of the Yellowjacket Invitational after she averaged 3.62 kills, 3.31 digs and 0.62 blocks per set in four matches. Photo by Shi Robinson.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

HOT STARTS FOR SIMON FRASER, SAINT MARTIN’S: In the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll, Simon Fraser was picked to finish seventh and Saint Martin’s was picked to finish ninth.

May we now introduce you to the hottest teams in the conference.

After not having played a match since November 20, 2019, Simon Fraser proceeded to go 4-0 against some high-powered competition at the Seaside Invitational in San Diego. It is the program’s best start in the school’s Division II era. Along the way, Simon Fraser defeated three teams that were ranked or received votes in the AVCA Division II Preseason Coaches Poll.

The topper of them all was a four-set upset of then-No. 3 ranked and 2019 national champion Cal State San Bernardino. Simon Fraser proceeded to hit .299 for the match and limited the Coyotes to a .160 hitting percentage. The SFU ledger included wins over PacWest Conference favorite Azusa Pacific and Cal State LA, picked to finish second in the CCAA behind Cal State San Bernardino.

The wins gained the notice of national voters, who ranked Simon Fraser No. 24 in this week’s AVCA Division II Poll.
After having won just one match in 2019, Saint Martin’s proceeded to make a statement by going 4-0 at the Yellowjacket Invitational in

Billings. It is the program’s best start since 2016. The Saints picked up a three-set victory over MSU Moorhead, four-set victories over South Dakota Mines and Bemidji State and a five-set victory over Black Hills State.

The Saints were, in a word, dominant. While averaging 12.81 kills per set in the four matches, they held opponents to a .049 hitting percentage. That ranks seventh in Division II in the early season.

For their efforts, both Simon Fraser and Saint Martin’s shared the GNAC Team of the Week award.

DEXTER EARNS NATIONAL AWARD: After leading Simon Fraser to the best start in the team’s GNAC era, freshman opposite Brooke Dexter was named the first American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division II National Player of the Week for the 2021 season.

Dexter led Simon Fraser to a 4-0 record at the Seaside Invitational in San Diego. She finished the week averaging 4.62 kills and 2.88 digs per set as SFU beat three teams that were listed in the AVCA Preseason Top-25 Poll, including a four-set upset of 2019 national champion Cal State San Bernardino on Friday.

Dexter opened her collegiate career with totals of 13 kills, seven digs and two blocks in Thursday’s three-set sweep of Azusa Pacific. She then led SFU with totals of 24 kills, nine digs, two blocks and a .388 hitting percentage in the four-set win over Cal State San Bernardino, which was ranked No. 3 in the preseason poll.

A TALE OF TWO TIAS: Two of the conference’s top new players, sharing the same first name, made good impressions during their opening weekends.

Saint Martin’s freshman outside hitter Tia Allen was named the MVP at the Yellowjacket Invitational after she averaged 3.62 kills, 3.31 digs and 0.62 blocks per set. She posted a double-double in three of four matches, topped by a 21-kill, 13-dig performance against Bemidji State on Saturday.

Central Washington sophomore outside hitter/setter Tia Andaya was named to the All-Tournament Team at the WWU Invitational. She averaged five assists, 1.79 kills and 2.21 digs per set. She posted triple-doubles of 10 kills, 22 assists and 12 digs against MSU Denver on Friday and 10 kills, 27 assists and 11 digs against Chaminade on Sunday.

Andaya is the GNAC player to reach a triple-double since September 26, 2019 and is the first GNAC player to have more than one triple-double in a season since 2012.

SIMPLY THE BEST: The following GNAC plays have been named to all-tournament teams during the 2021 season.

Seawolf Invitational (Sept. 2-4): Cate Whiting (UAF), Ellen Floyd (UAA), Eve Stephens (UAA).
Yellowjacket Invitational (Sept. 3-4): Tia Allen (SMU, MVP), Kylie Alos (SMU), Joelle Maohwald (MSUB), Bayli Monck (MSUB).
WWU Invitational (Sept. 3-5): Malia Aleaga (WWU, MVP), Gabby Gunterman (WWU), Olivia Fairchild (WWU), Tess Biscup (WWU), Marianna Payne (CWU), Tia Andaya (CWU).

THIS WEEK'S GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSIVE
Brooke Dexter, Simon Fraser
OPP • 6-2 • Freshman • Anchorage, Alaska

Dexter led all GNAC players with 4.62 kills per set while also averaging 2.88 digs and 0.44 blocks per set as Simon Fraser went 4-0 at the Seaside Invitational in San Diego. Dexter opened the weekend with 13 kills in Thursday’s three-set sweep of Azusa Pacific before finishing with 24 kills, nine digs and two blocks in Friday’s four-set upset of No. 3 Cal St. San Bernardino. She added a 20-kill performance in the five-set over Cal State LA on Friday night and 17 kills in a four-set win over Point Loma on Saturday.

Also Nominated: Cate Whiting (Alaska), Ellen Floyd (Alaska Anchorage), Marianna Payne (Central Washington), Bayli Monck (Montana State Billings), Tia Allen (Saint Martin’s), Isabel Hurliman (Western Oregon), Malia Aleaga (Western Washington).

DEFENSIVE
Kylie Alos, Saint Martin’s
DS/L • 5-3 • Junior • Mililani, Hawaii

Alos averaged 5.56 digs and 0.62 assists per set and was named to The Yellowjacket Invitational all-tournament team as Saint Martin’s started 4-0 for the first time since 2016. Alos had 20 or more digs in three of the four matches, which included 26 digs against South Dakota Mines on Friday, 22 digs against Black Hills State on Saturday and 28 digs against Bemidji State on Saturday.

Also Nominated: Dani Dodge (Alaska), Talia Leauanae (Alaska Anchorage), Kylee Yamashita (Central Washington), Joelle Mahowald (Montana State Billings), Julia Tays (Simon Fraser), Sophie Matlock (Western Oregon), Olivia Fairchild (Western Washington).

AROUND THE GNAC
ALASKA
• Alaska went 2-2 at the Seawolf Invitational in Anchorage. The Nanooks took a three-set loss to Central Missouri on Thursday and swept Indianapolis in three sets on Friday before dropped a four-set match to Biola. The tournament ended with a four-set win over Texas A&M-International on Saturday.

• Senior outside hitter AveRee Reynolds led the Nanooks with 43 kills in the four matches, averaging 3.31 kills and 1.23 blocks per set. Reynolds’ best performances came in the final two matches of the tournament. She tallied 14 kills and seven blocks against Biola and 13 kills and six blocks on Saturday against Texas A&M-International. Reynolds is averaging 2.83 kills per set and is tied for 10th in the GNAC with one block per set. She is third in Division II with 30 total blocks.

• Senior setter Cate Whiting was named to the All-Tournament Team after she averaged 9.69 assists, 3.92 digs and 0.85 blocks per ser set in Anchorage. She posted 30 or more kills in the final two matches, topped by a double-double of 34 assists and 23 digs against Biola. Whiting had four blocks in the wins over Indianapolis and Texas A&M-International. Whiting is fourth in the GNAC with 9.23 assists per set and ninth with 3.83 digs per set.

• Alaska is averaging 12.27 kills per set and is third in the GNAC with 16.67 digs, 1.67 aces and 2.50 blocks per set. The Nanooks lead Division II with 78.5 total blocks and second with 332 total assists.

• Alaska will host the Nanook Classic this weekend. The Nanooks will face Cal State LA on Thursday, Drury on Friday and Ursuline and CSU Pueblo on Saturday.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
• The Seawolves hosted their first matches in the Alaska Airlines Center since 2019 and went 3-1 in the Seawolf Invitational. Alaska Anchorage scored a five-set win over Biola on Thursday and three-set wins over Texas A&M-International and Indianapolis on Friday. The tourney closed with a three-set loss to Central Missouri on Saturday.

• Junior right-side hitter Eve Stephens was named to the All-Tournament Team after she averaged 3.64 kills, two digs and one block per set. Stephens opened with 20 kills, 11 digs and five blocks against Biola and then added totals of 14 kills and seven digs and a .400 hitting percentage against Indianapolis. Stephens leads the GNAC with 4.16 kills per set and leads Division II with 113 total kills.

• Junior setter Ellen Floyd also earned All-Tournament Team honors after averaging 9.93 assists and 3.71 digs per set. Floyd opened the tourney with 52 assists, 19 digs, two aces and three blocks against Biola and went on to add 35 assists, 10 digs and three blocks against Indianapolis. Floyd had double-doubles (assists & digs) in all four matches. Floyd is second in the GNAC with 10.07 assists per set and tied for second with teammate Talia Leauanae with 0.54 blocks per set. Floyd is second in Division II with 282 total assists.

• Alaska Anchorage enters the week ranked second in the GNAC 12.86 kills per set. The Seawolves lead the conference and rank 41st in Division II with 2.21 aces per set and lead the nation with 62 total aces.

• Alaska Anchorage is fifth among teams receiving votes in this week’s AVCA Division II Coaches Poll, earning 93 points.

• Alaska Anchorage will take part in the Nanook Classic this weekend in Fairbanks. The Seawolves face Ursuline on Thursday, CSU Pueblo and Cal State LA on Friday and Drury on Saturday.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington opened the season with a 1-2 record at the Western Washington Invitational. The Wildcats took a five-set loss to No. 11 MSU Denver on Friday, beat Sonoma State in four sets on Saturday and lost to Chaminade in five sets on Sunday.

• Freshman outside hitter Marianna Payne was named to the All-Tournament Team after leading the Wildcats with 3.64 kills per set and a .370 hitting percentage. She finished with 17 kills and five digs against MSU Denver, 16 kills and four blocks against Sonoma State and 18 kills and five blocks against Chaminade. Payne is ranked third in the GNAC with her .370 hitting percentage and 3.64 kills per set.

• Sophomore setter/outside hitter Tia Andaya was also named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 1.79 kills, five assists and 2.21 digs per set. Her ledger included three triple-doubles, the first in the GNAC since 2019 and the first time one player has had at least two in a season since 2014. Andaya opened with 10 kills, 22 assists and 12 digs against MSU Denver and closed with 10 kills, 27 assists and 11 digs against Chaminade. Andaya is ranked ninth in the GNAC with her five assists per set.

• Central Washington is ranked second in the GNAC with a .223 hitting percentage while averaging 11.71 kills and 14.14 digs per set. The Wildcats rank 33rd in Division II with 2.43 blocks per set.

• The Wildcats will co-host the CWU/SPU Invitational this weekend in Ellensburg. They will face Hawaii Pacific on Thursday, St. Cloud St. on Friday and Biola on Saturday.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings opened the 2021 season with a 3-1 record at its own Yellowjacket Invitational. The team scored three-set wins over Black Hills State and Bemidji State on Friday. The Yellowjackets earned a four-set win over MSU Moorhead on Saturday before taking a four-set loss to South Dakota Mines.

• Senior right-side hitter Bayli Monck was named to the All-Tournament Team after she averaged 3.50 kills, three digs and 0.57 blocks per set. Monck finished with 11 kills in each of Friday’s matches. Monck notched double-doubles in both Saturday matches, finishing with 15 kills and 18 digs against MSU Moorhead and 12 kills and 17 digs against South Dakota Mines. Monck currently ranks fifth in the GNAC in kills per set.

• Senior middle blocker Joelle Mahowald also earned All-Tournament Team accolades after she averaged 2.93 kills and 1.14 blocks per set. Her best performances came in Saturday’s matches with 17 kills and five blocks against MSU Moorhead and 12 kills and six blocks against South Dakota Mines. Mahowald is tied for sixth in the GNAC in blocks per set.

• As a team, Montana State Billings is averaging 12.21 kills per set and ranks second in the GNAC with 16.86 digs per set. The Yellowjackets are second in the GNAC and 26th in Division II with a .095 opponent hitting percentage.

• The Yellowjackets will travel to Hawaii for four matches this week. After a neutral-site match against Cal State East Bay on Friday, MSUB will play Chaminade on both Saturday and Sunday. They will also play a neutral-site match against Hawaii Hilo in Honolulu on Saturday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene dropped both matches to San Francisco State on its season-opening trip to the Bay Area. The Nighthawks fell in four sets to the Gators on Friday and in three sets on Saturday.

• Senior outside hitter Brooke Foster led the Nighthawks offensively with 3.43 kills per set and a .221 hitting percentage. She opened the season with 17 kills, 12 digs and a .318 hitting percentage on Friday. Foster added totals of seven kills and two digs on Saturday. Foster ranks sixth in the GNAC in kills per set and is eighth with 3.64 points per set.

• Junior Caroline McMahon provided steady defense for the Nighthawks, averaging 4.71 digs per set while also compiling 1.43 assists per set. McMahon had totals of 15 digs and six assists in Friday’s match and added 18 digs and four digs on Saturday. McMahon is third in the GNAC in digs per set.

• The Nighthawks enter the week averaging 10.14 kills and 14.57 digs per set.

• Northwest Nazarene will play four matches this weekend in the SoCal Freeway Challenge. The Nighthawks play at Azusa Pacific and at Concordia Irvine on Thursday, at Cal Poly Pomona on Friday and against Fresno Pacific on Sunday.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s is the early leader for most improved team in Division II. After a 1-28 finish in 2019, the Saints went 4-0 at the Yellowjacket Invitational. It is the Saints’ first 4-0 start since 2016.

• The Saints scored a three-set sweep of MSU Moorhead and a four-set win over South Dakota Mines on Friday. They finished the tourney with a five-set win over Black Hills State and a four-set win over Bemidji State on Saturday.

• The tremendous team performance earned Saint Martin’s selection with Simon Fraser as the GNAC Team of the Week.

• Freshman outside hitter Tia Allen was named the tournament’s MVP after she compiled totals of 3.62 kills, 3.31 digs, 0.50 aces and 0.62 blocks per set in the four matches. After opening her SMU career with nine kills against MSU Moorhead, Allen tallied double-doubles in each of the remaining three matches. Her weekend was topped by 16 kills, 13 digs, four blocks and two aces against Black Hills State and 21 kills, 13 digs, three aces and two blocks against Bemidji State. Allen is fourth in the GNAC in kills per set and ranks 17th in Division II with 11.81 attacks per set.

• Junior libero Kylie Alos was named to the All-Tournament Team and was named the GNAC Defensive Player of the Week after she averaged 5.56 digs per set in Billings. Alos posted 20 or more digs in three of the four matches, including 26 digs against South Dakota Mines and 28 digs against Bemidji State. Alos leads the GNAC and is 28th in Division II with 5.56 digs per set.

• Saint Martin’s enters the week third in the GNAC with 12.81 kills per set. The Saints lead the conference and rank 15th in Division II with 19.56 digs per set. They also lead the conference with 12 assists per set and a .049 opponent attack percentage that ranks seven in Division II.

• The Saints head to Hawaii this week for four matches. They will face Hawaii Hilo for two matches on Friday and Saturday, Cal State East Bay on Saturday and Chaminade on Sunday.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• The Falcons opened the season with a 1-3 record at the Oredigger Volleyball Classic in Golden, Colorado. Seattle Pacific took a three-set loss to Colorado Mines and a five-set loss to Colorado Christian on Friday. The week ended with a three-set loss to Colorado Mesa and a four-set win over Midwestern State on Saturday.

• Freshman middle blocker Hannah Hair led the Falcons offensively with 2.33 kills and 1.40 blocks per set. Her best effort came in the opener with 14 kills, six blocks and a .286 hitting percentage against Colorado Christian. Hair closed the tourney with nine kills and nine blocks against Midwestern State. Hair is currently tied for third in the GNAC and 24th in Division II with 1.40 blocks per set.

• Senior outside hitter Maddie Batiste averaged 2.42 kills, 1.92 digs and 0.50 blocks per set in Colorado. Her best performance came in the finale against Midwestern State with totals of 10 kills, nine digs and a block.

• Seattle Pacific enters the week averaging 11.20 kills and 9.87 digs per set. The Falcons rank second in the GNAC and 25th in Division II with 2.53 blocks per set.

• The Falcons will co-host the CWU/SPU Invitational this weekend in Seattle. They will take on Biola on Thursday followed by Hawaii Pacific and St. Cloud St. on Saturday.

SIMON FRASER
• After not having played since November 20, 2019, Simon Fraser emerged with an impressive 4-0 record at the Seaside Invitational in San Diego. After a three-set sweep of Azusa Pacific on Thursday, SFU upset 2019 national champion Cal State San Bernardino in four sets and beat Cal State LA in five sets on Friday. They finished the tournament with a four-set win over host Point Loma.

• The 4-0 start is the best in Simon Fraser’s Division II era, earning the team a share of GNAC Team of the Week honors with Saint Martin’s.

• Freshman outside hitter Brooke Dexter was named both the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week and the AVCA Division II Player of the Week after she led SFU with averages of 4.62 kills and 2.88 digs per set. Dexter was the prime mover behind the upset of Cal State San Bernardino, leading the team with 24 kills, 11 digs and three blocks. She added a 20-kill, 11-dig performance against Cal State LA and a 17-kill, 19-dig performance against Point Loma. Dexter leads the GNAC and is 13th in Division II in kills per set and ranks 23rd in Division II with 4.97 points per set.

• Senior setter Julia Tays provided solid passing and experience, averaging 10.69 assists and 2.88 digs per set in the four matches. She had double-doubles in each match, topped by her 53 assists and 10 digs against Cal State San Bernardino along with 53 assists and 15 digs against Cal State LA. Tays leads the GNAC in assists per set and is 10th in Division II with 171 total assists.

• Simon Fraser enters the week leading the GNAC and ranked 30th in Division II with 13.75 kills per set. They also lead the conference and rank 40th in Division II with a .257 hitting percentage. Simon Fraser is second in the GNAC with 11.94 assists per set.

• After not being ranked in the preseason poll, Simon Fraser has emerged at No. 24 in this week’s AVCA Division II Coaches Poll. The team received three first-place votes.

• Simon Fraser will put its 4-0 mark on the line at the CWU/SPU Invitational in Seattle. The team will face Biola on Friday followed by St. Cloud State and Hawaii Pacific on Saturday.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon opened the year by going 2-2 at the Broncos Fall Classic in Pomona, California. The Wolves lost the opener in five sets to Concordia Irvine on Thursday. On Friday, WOU beat Cal State Dominguez Hills in four sets before losing to host Cal Poly Pomona in three. The Wolves ended with a three-set sweep of Western New Mexico on Saturday.

• Sophomore outside hitter Isabel Hurliman led the Wolves as she averaged 3.13 kills and two digs per set over the four matches. She posted 13 kills in each of the first two matches, which included a double-double of 13 kills and 11 digs against Cal State Dominguez Hills. Hurliman closed the tourney with 15 kills, nine digs and a .407 hitting percentage against Western New Mexico. Hurliman currently ranks eighth in the GNAC in kills per set.

• Freshman outside hitter Madison Hornback averaged three kills per set in her WOU debut. She had double-digit kills in three of the four matches. She saved the best for last, finishing with 15 kills, six digs and a .333 hitting percentage. Hornback is currently ninth in the GNAC in kills per set.

• Western Oregon enters the week averaging 11.27 kills and 11.40 digs per set. The Wolves also rank fifth in the conference with 1.47 aces per set.

• The Wolves will compete this weekend at the CWU/SPU Invitational in Ellensburg, Washington, with matches against St. Cloud St. and Hawaii Pacific on Friday and Biola on Saturday.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington opened 2021 with a 3-0 mark in its own WWU Invitational. The Vikings posted a four-set win over Sonoma State on Friday, a five-set win over No. 11 MSU Denver on Saturday and a three-set sweep of Chaminade on Sunday.

• Sophomore setter Malia Aleaga was named the tournament MVP after she averaged 9.38 assists and 1.69 digs per set over the three matches. She just missed a double-double in each of the last two matches, finishing with 53 assists and nine digs against MSU Denver and 39 assists and nine digs against Chaminade. Aleaga is third in the GNAC in assists per set.

• Junior outside hitter Gabby Gunterman also earned All-Tournament Team honors with 2.62 kills, 3.85 digs and 0.69 blocks per set. She had 13 kills, 23 digs and four blocks against MSU Denver and 16 kills, 19 digs and three blocks against Chaminade. Gunterman leads the GNAC with 0.54 aces per set.

• Junior middle blocker Olivia Fairchild finished with two kills and 1.77 blocks per set to earn All-Tournament Team honors. Her ledger was topped by nine blocks against Chaminade. Fairchild leads the GNAC and is fifth in Division II in blocks per set.

• Junior outside hitter Tess Biscup also earned All-Tournament Team honors after averaging two kills and 0.92 blocks per set.

• The Vikings are averaging 12.08 kills and 15.54 digs per set. The Vikings lead the GNAC and rank second in Division II with 3.27 blocks per set.

• Western Washington climbed five spots to No. 9 in this week’s AVCA Division II Coaches Poll.

• The Vikings will play this week at the Division II Premier Challenge in Denver. They play Wayne State (Neb.) and Lewis in pool play on Saturday and will play two opponents to be announced on Sunday.

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