UH’s Kamana‘o named WAC Player of the Year
Four other Wahine are on the first team; eight in all earn honors
RENO, Nev. » Last night's pre-tournament banquet was an awards feast for the Hawaii women's volleyball team.
Just as they dominated Western Athletic Conference play with their seventh straight undefeated league season, the Rainbow Wahine dominated the all-conference teams. Led by repeat Player of the Year Kanoe Kamana'o, Hawaii had five named to the 12-player first team and three others on the 12-player second team.
Besides Kamana'o, a junior setter who was the WAC's preseason player of the year, senior middle Victoria Prince was a repeat first-team selection. Kamana'o is poised to break the UH career assist record while Prince leads the eighth-ranked Wahine in kills, aces and blocks.
Also named from Hawaii were junior hitter Sarah Mason, sophomore middle Juliana Sanders and senior libero Ashley Watanabe. On the second team were senior hitter Susie Boogaard, sophomore hitter Tara Hittle and freshman hitter Jamie Houston.
"I don't think there's any surprise that Kanoe was chosen," said Hawaii coach Dave Shoji, who shared Coach of the Year honors with New Mexico State's Mike Jordan. "And I'm very glad that the coaches finally recognized Ashley and what she has meant to us. She was very deserving."
Kamana'o is the only setter nationally to average over 13.5 assists, 2.5 digs and 1 block per game. She is within 45 assists of breaking the UH career record of 4,637 held by Martina Cincerova (1985-88).
Watanabe is 47 digs shy of the UH single-season dig record of 437, set by Teee Williams in 1988.
Mason, a transfer from Oregon, got the nod despite missing the last three matches of the year with a sprained ankle. The WAC leader in kills (4.71 kpg), Mason may play in this week's conference tournament.
Hawaii (22-6, 16-0), the six-time defending WAC tourney champion, will take on the winner of this morning's play-in match between Louisiana Tech and Boise State at 5:30 p.m. Hawaii time.
For the first time in three seasons, a Wahine was not Freshman of the Year. That honor went to New Mexico State middle Amber Simpson. Houston, however, was named to the seven-member all-freshman team.
"I think Jamie is the best freshman in the league," said Shoji (coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players). "What hurt her chances is not getting in enough games, not starting enough."
Shoji also felt the Boogaard was overlooked because her numbers were not impressive.
"Susie sacrificed her numbers for the good of the team," the coach said. "We know how valuable she is to us."
It was the sixth time Shoji had either shared or won the coaching award in UH's 10 WAC seasons. For Jordan, it was his third consecutive award, having been honored as the top Sun Belt coach the past two seasons.