Azenha, Reft named

The coaches pick Pepperdine hitter
Rooney as college volleyball’s
top men’s player

Hawaii, Pepperdine and Long Beach State each had two first-team All-Americans yesterday when the American Volleyball Coaches Association announced its 15th annual team.

Hawaii senior outside hitter Pedro Azenha and junior libero Alfred Reft were first-team selections on the heels of the Warriors' 19-9 season that ended April 23 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament quarterfinal.

"Of course I'm happy about (the recognition)," said Azenha, who was on the AVCA second team last year. "But I wish I never received any award and the team did better."

Reft attended last night's honors banquet at UCLA. Despite having received advance notice, he was still trying to process the surprise.

"It was a great feeling to get an honor like that," Reft said. "It was very unexpected. I'm kind of speechless about the whole thing, actually."

"I'm very grateful for these two guys," UH coach Mike Wilton said.

Long Beach State's Tyler Hildebrand and Robert Tarr, Pepperdine's Sean Rooney and Andy Hein, Stanford's Kevin Hansen, UCLA's Paul Johnson, Penn State's Nate Meerstein and UC Santa Barbara's Evan Patak rounded out the first team.

Rooney is now a three-time first-team All-American and last night was named National Player of the Year. Hildebrand also earned first-team honors last season.

Pepperdine freshman Jonathan Winder was named Newcomer of the Year.

Reft had 272 digs this season, hitting double digits 14 times, including 22 against Pepperdine on March 2.

"Alfie had a terrific season," Azenha said.

"He sure played as good as any libero I saw this year," Wilton said. "He just had a wonderful year. He works so hard at his craft."

Azenha was third nationally in aces and had double-figure kills in 27 of 28 matches this season.

"He had a big year," Wilton said. "He was a force at the net and the back row, serving. In the three years with us he really made himself more of an all-around player."

Both Hawaii players expressed gratitude for their teammates and coaches. They also had similar feelings on receiving individual rather than team awards.

"It was tough tonight," Reft said. "Tough to sit there with the final four teams knowing we kind of ended our chance to be there. At the same time, it's nice that your efforts don't go unrecognized."

"It was the kind of season where it was so darn close in the league, there's a lot of teams thinking, with a little bit extra here or there, that they could still be playing," Wilton said.

UCLA plays Penn State and Ohio State plays Pepperdine tonight in the NCAA semifinals at UCLA.

AVCA Division I-II All-Americans

First team
Player, School Pos. Yr. Ht.
Pedro Azenha, Hawaii OH Sr. 6-6
Kevin Hansen, Stanford S Sr. 6-5
Andy Hein, Pepperdine MB Jr. 6-10
Tyler Hildebrand, Long Beach State S Jr. 6-4
Paul Johnson, UCLA MB Sr. 6-8
Nate Meerstein, Penn State MB Jr. 6-9
Evan Patak, UC Santa Barbara RS/Opp So. 6-8
Alfred Reft, Hawaii Lib Jr. 5-10
Sean Rooney, Pepperdine OH Sr. 6-9
Robert Tarr, Long Beach State OH Jr. 6-6
Second team
Player, School Pos. Yr. Ht.
Michael Burke, Brigham Young MB Sr. 6-8
Mark Greaves, Ohio State OH Jr. 6-4
Scott Greene, Loyola-Chicago OH Sr. 6-5
Keith Kowal, Penn State MB Sr. 6-7
Krystian Krzyzak, Loyola-Chicago Lib Sr. 6-0
Nils Nielsen, Cal State Northridge RS/Opp Sr. 6-4
Ivan Perez, Brigham Young OH Fr. 6-4
Matt Proper, Penn State RS/Opp Jr. 6-7
Brian Waite, Cal State Northridge MB Jr. 6-6
Jonathan Winder, Pepperdine S Fr. 6-8

Player of the Year: Sean Rooney, Pepperdine, OH
Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Winder, Pepperdine, S

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