Phelps, Defending Champs Lead Volleyball Preseason Team
The top player on the conference's top squad, Western Washington's Abby Phelps averaged 4.93 points and 4.31 kills per set en route to All-American distinction.
The top player on the conference's top squad, Western Washington's Abby Phelps averaged 4.93 points and 4.31 kills per set en route to All-American distinction.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – The conference’s top player in 2017 and the defending conference champions lead the way in coaches’ selections to the 2018 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Volleyball Preseason All-Conference Team.

Western Washington senior outside hitter Abby Phelps was named the GNAC Preseason Player of the Year, receiving eight of 10 possible first-place votes (coaches cannot vote for their own players). The 2017 GNAC Player of the Year and All-American leads three Vikings’ selections to the squad, which also includes senior setter Brette Boesel and senior middle blocker Michaela Hall.

Four teams, three of which joined Western Washington at the NCAA West Regional, landed two players each on the squad. Alaska Anchorage is represented by senior outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson and sophomore setter Casey Davenport. Central Washington landed senior outside hitters Shelby Mauritson and Madison Weg while Seattle Pacific is represented by junior outside hitter Gabby Oddo and senior setter Symone Tran. Simon Fraser earned selections in senior middle blocker Tessa May and sophomore setter Julia Tays.

The team is rounded out by Alaska junior middle blocker Kim Wong, Montana State Billings sophomore libero Izela Alvarez and Northwest Nazarene senior outside hitter Cami Heninger.

Phelps was the prime mover in the Vikings’ title run. She ranked sixth in Division II with 12.87 attacks per set, 12th with 4.93 points per set and 14th with 4.31 kills per set, leading the GNAC in all three categories. She led a WWU squad that led the GNAC and ranked 18th nationally with a .249 hitting percentage. Phelps had double-digit kills in all but two of her 31 matches, topped by a 28-kill performance in the NCAA West Regional vs. Alaska Anchorage on Nov. 30.

Boesel led the GNAC and ranked 11th in Division II with 11.72 assists per set. She had 30 or more assists in all but two matches for the Vikings, led by her 55-assist performance against Alaska Anchorage in the NCAA West Regional. Boesel posted double-doubles (assists and digs) in 12 matches, including a 38-assist, 15-dig effort against Northwest Nazarene on Nov. 16.

Hall proved a well-rounded hitting and blocking threat in her junior season. She finished fifth in the GNAC and 24th in Division II with 1.24 blocks per set and was 31st nationally with 124 total blocks. Hall also averaged 2.70 kills per set and her .310 hitting percentage ranked fifth in the conference. All three WWU players were also First Team All-GNAC selections.

Johnson, who earned Honorable Mention All-GNAC selection in 2017, averaged 3.05 kills per set in 30 matches for Alaska Anchorage. The Seawolves’ top returning outside hitter, Johnson notched double-doubles (kills and digs) in 12 matches, topped by her 24 kills and 15 digs against Central Washington on Oct. 28.

Davenport, the 2017 GNAC Freshman of the Year, finished eighth in the GNAC with 7.25 assists per set after moving from a two-setter system to a one-setter protocol midway through the season. Davenport registered double-digit assists in all but one match and had double-doubles in 12 matches, led by a 50-assist, 29-dig performance against Central Washington.

The Wildcats’ Mauritson, a First Team All-GNAC selection, finished second in the GNAC and 11th in Division II with 12.29 attacks per set while averaging 3.59 kills and 0.55 blocks per set. The senior finished with double-digit kills in all but two matches and notched double-doubles in 19 matches. She posted a season-high 24 kills vs Concordia on Oct. 21.

Weg provided solid support to the Wildcats’ potent middle blockers and will be expected to take on a larger role in the offense in her senior season. She averaged 1.66 kills and 0.84 blocks per set and finished with a season-high 18 kills against Alaska on Sept. 28 and nine blocks against Azusa Pacific on Sept. 7.

After seeing her freshman season cut short due to injury, Oddo came back to be an impact player for a much-improved Seattle Pacific squad as a sophomore. Oddo led the Falcons and finished seventh in the GNAC with 3.50 kills per set to earn First Team All-GNAC honors. She finished with 22 double-digit kill performances, led by her 23 at Western Oregon on Nov. 16.

An Honorable Mention All-GNAC selection as a setter, Tran finished third in the GNAC and 51st in Division II with 10.32 assists per set and was 49th in the nation with 1,176 total assists. She finished with 40 or more assists on 15 occasions, paced by 68 against Western Washington on Nov. 9, and had 17 double-doubles.

The leader of the Simon Fraser offense, May earned First Team All-GNAC honors after finishing second in the GNAC and 19th in Division II with a .366 hitting percentage. The senior averaged 2.83 kills, 1.08 blocks and 0.95 digs per set. She notched a season-high 21 kills against Western Oregon on Sept. 28 and matched the effort to go along with 11 blocks against Northwest Nazarene on Nov. 18.

Tays will see an enhanced role for the Clan at setter. During her freshman season, Tays averaged 9.10 assists per set to rank fifth in the GNAC while adding 2.34 digs per set. She finished with double-digit assists in 25 matches and notched 11 double-doubles, led by her 57 assists and 16 digs against Central Washington on Nov. 16.

Alvarez earned Honorable Mention All-GNAC honors in 2017 after making an immediate impact for Montana State Billings in her freshman season. The GNAC leader in digs ranked 20th in Division II with 5.76 per set and finished with double-digit digs in all but two matches. Alvarez had a season-high of 38 in her first college match against Minnesota State-Moorhead on Sept. 1.

Heninger is the top returning outside hitter for a Northwest Nazarene squad that finished second in the GNAC and 23rd in Division II with a .244 hitting percentage. Heninger averaged 1.94 kills per set and had a .201 hitting percentage. She registered double-digit kills on six occasions, led by a 17-kill performance against Central Washington on Nov. 7.

Wong, an Honorable Mention All-GNAC selection for Alaska in 2017, averaged 1.62 kills and 0.53 blocks per set while ranking sixth in the GNAC with a .306 hitting percentage. Wong finished with double-digit kills on four occasions, led by her 15 kills against Central Washington on Oct. 28.

PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Abby Phelps, Western Washington  
Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown
*+# Abby Phelps Western Washington OH 5-10 Sr. Manson, Wash.
*+# Shelby Mauritson Central Washington OH 5-10 Sr. Madras, Ore.
*+# Tessa May Simon Fraser MB 6-3 Sr. Robert's Creek, B.C.
*+@ Chrisalyn Johnson Alaska Anchorage OH 5-8 Sr. Anchorage, Alaska
# Brette Boesel Western Washington S 5-9 Sr. Brewster, Wash.
*# Michaela Hall Western Washington MB 6-1 Sr. Centralia, Wash.
*# Gabby Oddo Seattle Pacific OH 5-9 Jr. Alta Loma, Calif.
Madison Weg Central Washington OH 5-0 Sr. Lynden, Wash.
@ Symone Tran Seattle Pacific S 5-8 Sr. Portland, Ore.
@ Casey Davenport Alaska Anchorage S 5-6 So. Auburn, Wash.
@ Izela Alvarez Montana State Billings DS/L 5-2 So. Dumas, Texas
Cami Heninger Northwest Nazarene OH 5-10 Sr. Fruitland, Idaho
Julia Tays Simon Fraser S 5-10 So. Winnipeg, Man.
@ Kim Wong Alaska MB 5-11 Jr. Spokane, Wash.

* - Unanimous Selection
+ - 2017 Preseason All-Conference Selection
# - 2017 First Team All-Conference Selection
@ - 2017 Honorable Mention All-Conference Selection

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