Swiss Headlines First VB Preseason All-Conference Team
A Second Team All-American by the D2CCA, Swiss is one of three Alaska Anchorage players named to the Preseason All-Conference Team. Photo by Skip Hickey.
A Second Team All-American by the D2CCA, Swiss is one of three Alaska Anchorage players named to the Preseason All-Conference Team. Photo by Skip Hickey.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – An All-American twice over that led Alaska Anchorage to the NCAA Division II national championship match leads 14 selections on the inaugural Great Northwest Athletic Conference Volleyball Preseason All-Conference Team.

Junior outside hitter Leah Swiss was selected by coaches as the 2017 GNAC Preseason Player of the Year in the conference’s first preseason survey of volleyball talent. Swiss was one of three Seawolves elected to the team and was joined by sophomore right side Diana Fa’amausili and junior outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson.

The preseason squad was dominated by players from the five GNAC teams that qualified for last year’s NCAA West Regional Tournament. Northwest Nazarene equaled Alaska Anchorage’s three selections with honors for senior middle blocker Madi Farrell, senior outside hitter Kendra Bodine and senior setter Hailey Cook.

Central Washington, Simon Fraser and Western Washington each had two selections to the team. The Wildcats are represented by senior middle blocker Sabrina Wheelhouse and junior outside hitter Shelby Mauritson. Simon Fraser earned selections for junior middle blocker Tessa May and senior outside hitter Christine Howlett while Western Washington is represented by junior outside hitter Abby Phelps and senior outside hitter Arielle Turner.

Rounding out the 14 selections is Concordia senior opposite Lindsey Dorsey and Western Oregon senior outside hitter Alisha Bettinson.

Swiss earned D2CCA Second Team All-America and AVCA Honorable Mention All-America honors after she led the Seawolves and finished second in the GNAC with an average of 3.56 kills per set and a .242 hitting percentage. She also finished third in the GNAC with an average of 0.38 aces per set.

Fa’amausili was named both the GNAC and AVCA West Region Freshman of the Year in addition to earning First Team All-GNAC honors. The right side finished the season with a .260 hitting percentage and averaged 2.75 kills per set. She also ranked eighth in the GNAC and 56th in Division II with 1.05 blocks per set (138 total). Johnson played a key role for the UAA offense as a sophomore, averaging 3.09 kills and 2.55 digs per set. Johnson was named to the NCAA Championships All-Tournament Team after averaging 3.64 kills and 3.09 digs per set in the three matches.

Both Farrell and Bodine return for NNU after All-American seasons in 2016. Farrell earned First Team All-American honors from the AVCA and third team honors from D2CCA after leading the GNAC and ranking 30th in Division II with a .354 hitting percentage. She also ranked among the national leaders in blocking, ranking seventh with 1.31 blocks per set.

Bodine was named an Honorable Mention All-American by the AVCA. She led the GNAC and finished 38th in Division II with an average of 3.88 kills per set. Bodine also added 3.16 digs per set to go along with 48 blocks. Cook earned Honorable Mention All-GNAC honors in 2016 after finishing second in the GNAC and 16th in Division II with 11.44 assists per set.

Wheelhouse was the prime mover behind a Central Washington team that led Division II with 2.96 blocks per set. The senior led the GNAC and was ranked second in Division II individually with 1.66 blocks per set, setting a GNAC single-season record. She enters 2017 as the GNAC career leader in blocks per set (1.42) and block assists per set (1.27). In addition, Wheelhouse finished third in the GNAC with a .314 hitting percentage to earn Honorable Mention All-American honors by both the AVCA and D2CCA. Mauritson provides a solid hitting presence for the Wildcats, returning for her junior season after averaging 2.29 kills and 2.89 digs per set.

May steps in to lead the Simon Fraser offense after earning First Team All-GNAC honors as a sophomore. She finished seventh in the GNAC with a .278 hitting percentage, averaging 2.80 kills per set, while finishing fourth in the GNAC and 15th in Division II with 1.22 blocks per set. Howlett finished 2016 with a .202 hitting percentage and averaged 2.31 kills per set to go along with 50 blocks.

Phelps, an AVCA Honorable Mention All-American selection, led Western Washington and finished eighth in the GNAC with an average of 3.21 kills per set. She also led the Vikings with an average of 4.56 digs per set to go along with 47 blocks. Turner finished second in the GNAC with 0.41 aces per set and was one of the team’s top hitters with an average of 2.93 kills per set and a .231 hitting percentage.

Dorsey earned First Team All-GNAC honors after leading Concordia to a sixth place GNAC finish for the second consecutive season. She led the GNAC with an average of 0.51 aces per set while amassing a .251 hitting percentage and 3.18 kills per set. Bettinson led Western Oregon in 2016 with 3.40 kills and 3.23 digs per set while starting all but one of the Wolves’ 27 matches.

Conference coaches nominated a maximum of four players each from their teams for the GNAC Preseason All-Conference Team, with the top-14 in voting earning selection to the squad. Coaches could not vote for their own players.

PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Leah Swiss, Alaska Anchorage  
Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown
* Leah Swiss Alaska Anchorage OH 6-0 Jr. Anchorage, Alaska
* Madi Farrell Northwest Nazarene MB 6-2 Sr. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
* Abby Phelps Western Washington OH 5-10 Jr. Manson, Wash.
* Sabrina Wheelhouse Central Washington MB 6-3 Sr. Eugene, Ore.
* Kendra Bodine Northwest Nazarene OH 5-10 Sr. Eugene, Ore.
* Tessa May Simon Fraser MB 6-3 Jr. Robert's Creek, B.C.
* Lindsey Dorsey Concordia OPP 5-9 Sr. Salem, Ore.
* Diana Fa'amausili Alaska Anchorage RS 5-11 So. Federal Way, Wash.
* Arielle Turner Western Washington OH 5-10 Sr. Leavenworth, Wash.
Chrisalyn Johnson Alaska Anchorage OH 5-8 Jr. Anchorage, Alaska
Hailey Cook Northwest Nazarene S 5-10 Sr. Nampa, Idaho
Alisha Bettinson Western Oregon OH 5-11 Sr. Richland, Wash.
Shelby Mauritson Central Washington OH 5-10 Jr. Madras, Ore.
Christine Howlett Simon Fraser OH 5-11 Sr. Delta, B.C.
* - indicates unanimous selection