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Kekai Crabbe Named WCC Defensive Player of the Year

Nov. 21, 2006

MALIBU, Calif. - Pepperdine senior libero Kekai Crabbe was named West Coast Conference (WCC) Defensive Player of the Year and setter Kiah Fiers was voted as the league's Freshman of the Year announced Tuesday by the conference office.

Crabbe averaged a conference-high 5.13 digs per game this season which resulted in league opponents hitting at a conference low .162 mark over the course of the 14-match WCC schedule. The Honolulu, Hawaii native becomes the first Pepperdine student-athlete since Christina Hinds (2004) to pick up the league's top defensive honor.

"I am really happy for Kekai," said Pepperdine head coach Nina Matties. "She has worked so hard to get better and she has been the backbone of our defense all season long. When she passes well and plays great defense, we play really well. I am happy for her, that she is being recognized for her supreme effort."

Fiers averaged 12.53 assists per game in league play this season and set the team to a .261 hitting percentage during her rookie season. The Palos Verde Estates, Calif. native proved to be more than a handful for opponents with her ability to attack and dig as well as set. She averaged 1.49 kills per game to go along with her 2.85 digs per game, a mark that was second to only Crabbe's total. Fiers becomes the ninth Pepperdine women's volleyball player to pick up top rookie honors and first since, current teammate, Sophia Milo in 2003.

But the accolades didn't stop there for the Waves.

Crabbe was joined by Milo and sophomore Julie Rubenstein on the All-WCC first team, while Fiers was joined by Rachel Lumsden and Kayla Walker on the All-Freshman team.

Milo becomes the sixth Wave to earn three all-conference first team honors during her career and first since Katie Wilkins turned the feat from 2001-03. Milo led Pepperdine in hitting percentage and blocks per game this season at .327 and 1.43, respectively.

"Sophia was a conference MVP candidate," noted Matthies. "She has been our most valuable player. She has risen to the occasion and performed her best in our biggest matches. I think she has proven that she is one of the top collegiate middle blockers in the country and it is nice to know the coaches in the conference as well as her peers feel like she is playing at that level as well."

For the first time in her career, Milo had teammates on the first team. Rubenstein was the lone underclassmen selected after recording a team-high 186 kills, 3.96 per game, 2.32 digs per game and 46 total blocks, 22 solo. The native of Camarillo, Calif. was instrumental in leading the Waves to an 11-3 league record, especially during a 7-0 stretch the second time through the WCC schedule.

"It bodes well for our future that Julie, along with the three freshmen, have been so good for us this year," noted Matthies. "I think Julie has had a tremendous year and still has a huge upside. When she plays well, we play well."

With three student-athletes on the all-freshman team, Pepperdine has placed more rookies on the team, which started last year, than any other school in the WCC with five. Lumsden, a native of Brea, Calif., finished league play second on the team with 3.57 kills per game, while averaging 2.70 digs per game and 0.66 blocks per game. Walker, a Kaysville, Utah native, added 2.28 kills per game, 1.55 digs per game and 0.79 blocks per game.

"I am trying to assemble the best group of kids I can," said Matthies. "They are playing well together and playing well, period. The three freshmen this year have earned the right to start on this team because they are tremendous players. These three, along with sophomores [Rubenstein and Cassi Chamberlain] shows that Pepperdine is going to be around for a while."