|Vandals rake in WAC honors|
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Six Idaho volleyball players and Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan were recognized at the annual Western Athletic Conference awards banquet in the Orleans Arena, the site of this week's WAC Tournament, Sunday night.
Buchanan earned her first career WAC Coach of the Year honor; outside hitters Allison Walker and Alicia Milo earned first-team all-WAC honors; libero Cassie Hamilton, setter Jenny Feicht and middle blocker Alex Sele were named second-team all-WAC and middle blocker Alyssa Schultz earned WAC all-freshman team recognition.
Buchanan led Idaho to a 16-11 overall record, a 10-4 record in WAC play and the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, Idaho's highest finish since joining the WAC. Idaho finished the season on a five-match winning streak to clinch second place in the WAC on the final day of conference play. The Vandals went 10-2 overall since Oct. 1, and in that time Buchanan surpassed Tom Hilbert as Idaho's all-time winningest coach with 179 career wins.
Walker, a sophomore from Othello, Wash., led the league with 4.31 kills per game in WAC matches, and added 2.69 digs and 0.49 blocks per game while hitting .212. Walker had 13 double-doubles on the season, and was a three-time WAC Player of the Week in 2011. Her 4.65 points per game ranked second in the conference. Walker was also a first-team all-WAC selection in 2010.
Milo, a senior from Portland, Ore., ranked sixth in the WAC with 3.75 kills per game, and she added 2.14 digs and 0.33 blocks per game while hitting .240 during conference play. Milo had seven total double-doubles on the season, and earned her first career WAC Player of the Week honor earlier this year. This is Milo's first career all-WAC recognition.
Hamilton, a senior from Murrieta, Calif., led the WAC with 4.37 digs per game in conference matches. Her 4.39 digs per game for the season is the sixth highest average in Idaho history, and her 1,394 career digs are just 26 shy of tying Idaho's career record. This is Hamilton's first career all-WAC selection.
Feicht, a junior from Irvine, Calif., ranked second in the WAC with 10.90 assists per game in WAC contests and was fifth with 0.33 service aces per game. She set the Vandals to a .232 hitting percentage during the conference season, the third highest team hitting percentage in the WAC. Feicht had her milestone 2,000th assist in 2011, and ranks seventh in Idaho history with 2,206 career assists. This is Feicht's first career all-WAC recognition.
Sele, a junior from Tumwater, Wash., averaged 1.31 blocks per game in WAC play, ranking third. She also hit .226 during the conference season and averaged 1.60 kills per game. Sele had seven or more kills 12 times in 2011 and had five or more blocks 10 times. This is Sele's first career all-WAC honor.
Schultz, a freshman from Issaquah, Wash., ranked sixth in the WAC in conference matches with a .336 hitting percentage, and she averaged 1.53 kills and 1.31 blocks per game throughout conference play. Her 1.09 blockers per game were seventh in the WAC.
The five all-conference selections are the most Idaho has had in any conference. The last time the Vandals had multiple first-team all-WAC players was 2009 when Sarah Conwell, Anna McKinney and Debbie Pederson were all selected to the first team. The last time a conference Coach of the Year came from Idaho was 1995, when Tom Hilbert collected his fourth consecutive Big Sky Coach of the Year honor.
The Vandals begin the WAC tournament with a semifinal match on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 5 p.m. against the winner of (3) New Mexico State vs. (6) San Jose State.