SAN BRUNO, Calif. - BYU claimed its first outright West Coast Conference regular season title, headlining four teams advancing to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Cougars placed three on the All-WCC team and captured three of the four major individual awards.
BYU's Alexa Gray was voted the 2014 WCC Player of the Year, while teammate Whitney Young, the 2013 WCC Freshman of the Year, garnered Defensive Player of the Year honors. Santa Clara's Kirsten Mead took WCC Freshman of the Year honors. Pacific's Greg Gibbons and BYU's Shawn Olmstead shared Coach of the Year honors. All four individual awards - including the all-conference and all-freshman teams - were voted on by the WCC's 10 head coaches.
Gray is the second Cougar in three seasons to capture WCC Player of the Year honors, joining two-sport All-American Jennifer Hamson. A three-time All-WCC selection, Gray ranked second in the league in kills (4.11) and was third in hitting percentage (.338) during conference play.
Young collects her second major individual award in two seasons and becomes the first Cougar to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors. A dominant force at the net, Gray led the WCC in blocks (2.09) for the second straight year to help the Cougars lead all of Division I in the category (3.89). Entering the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Young leads all of Division I in blocks per set (1.93) and total blocks (193).
Mead is the first Bronco to take Freshman of the Year honors since Krista Kelley accomplished the feat in 2007 and is the fifth overall. Mead set the Broncos into the NCAA Tournament, averaging a league-high 12.03 assists per set during WCC matches as the Broncos hit .236 as a squad, good for second place in the conference. Mead also rates seventh among WCC leaders in aces (0.30).
Gibbons directed the Tigers (24-7, 13-5) to a second-place finish in the WCC in their second conference season. Pacific constructed a 10-match winning streak and closed the regular season with five straight victories. The Tigers ranked 10th among Division I leaders in opposing hitting percentage (.145) and 32nd in blocks (2.61).
A two-time Coach of the Year, Olmstead guided BYU (25-4, 16-2) to its first outright WCC championship and to a No. 12 national ranking. In addition to leading the nation in blocks, the Cougars rank eighth in hitting percentage (.286) and seventh in opposing hitting percentage (.144). BYU posted a winning streak of 11 matches and has won nine of its last 10 entering the NCAA Tournament.
This year marks just the second time in WCC history Coach of the Year honors were shared. The first came in 1998 when Pepperdine's Nina Matthies and San Diego's Sue Snyder were tabbed by their peers.
In a highly competitive season, no fewer than seven programs placed at least one student-athlete on the All-WCC squad. BYU and Loyola Marymount led the way with three, while Pacific placed a pair on the list.
Four West Coast Conference volleyball programs advanced to the 2014 NCAA Tournament: No. 12 BYU, Loyola Marymount, San Diego and Santa Clara. The opening round of the postseason is Thursday, December 4.
2014 ALL-WEST COAST CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM
|Alaysia Brown||Sr.||RS||San Diego|
|Caitlin DeWitt||Sr.||OPP||Loyola Marymount|
|Nikki Hess||So.||OH||Santa Clara|
|Litara Keil||Sr.||MB||Loyola Marymount|
|Hannah Tedrow||Jr.||S||Loyola Marymount|
|Valentina Zaloznik||Sr.||MB||San Francisco|
2014 ALL-WEST COAST CONFERENCE HONORABLE MENTION
Jianna Bonomi, San Diego; Amy Boswell, BYU; Samantha Cash, Pepperdine; Sabrina Clayton, Santa Clara; Lexi Elman, Pacific; Canace Finley, San Diego; Natalie Loos, Saint Mary's; Kirsten Mead, Santa Clara; Katie Messing, Pepperdine; Taylor Milton, Santa Clara; Dani Rottman, Santa Clara; Becca Strehlow, Pepperdine
2014 ALL-WEST COAST CONFERENCE FRESHMAN TEAM
|Natasha Calkins||MB||Santa Clara|
|Kristen Castellanos||LIB||Loyola Marymount|
|Kaity Edwards||MB||Santa Clara|
|Kristen Gengenbacher||S||San Diego|
|Kimberly Guttierez||LIB||San Francisco|
|Jayden Kennedy||RS||San Diego|
|Kirsten Mead||S||Santa Clara|
|Clare Powers||OH||Saint Mary's|
|Alexis Salmons||MB||Saint Mary's|
|Sarah Sponcil||OH||Loyola Marymount|