Long Beach State's Barber, UC Irvine Duo Named Women's Volleyball Honorees
Representatives from Long Beach State and UC Irvine laid claim to the women’s volleyball weekly awards for their role in helping upend ranked San Diego and Pac-12 foe Oregon State.
Barber Posts Three Straight Double-Doubles
Long Beach State junior Nele Barber (Berlin, Germany/Marquette) tallied her first career Big West Women’s Volleyball Player of the Week honor as she reeled off three straight double-doubles against solid competition.
The 6-0 outside hitter helped the 49ers post a 2-1 record with wins over No. 21 San Diego and Oregon State, and a competitive four-set loss to No. 14 UCLA. She averaged 3.50 kills, 3.33 digs and 0.75 blocks per set for the week.
In a five-set marathon victory over the Toreros, Barber amassed 16 kills, 13 digs and five blocks to help the 49ers down their second ranked opponent this season.
Despite the loss to the Bruins, Barber helped snap UCLA’s 12-match set winning streak with 10 kills 10 digs, and a pair of service aces.
Barber then anchored a dominant display in a sweep of Oregon State, hitting .640 for the match with 16 kills and no errors in 25 swings. She added a career-high 17 digs to secure her seventh straight double-double.
Others nominated: Raeann Greisen (Cal Poly); Kaylin Squyres (UC Davis); Harlee Kekauoha (UC Irvine); Helena Peric (UC Riverside); Nikki Taylor (Hawai‘i)
Dominating Week Leads Kekauoha To Freshman Honors
UC Irvine’s Harlee Kekauoha (Long Beach, Calif./Wilson HS) secured her first career Big West Women’s Volleyball Freshman Player of the Week citation for three solid performances against top competition.
Among her achievements for the week, Kekauoha keyed UCI’s four-set upset win over No. 21 San Diego, and had an errorless performance against No. 14 UCLA as the Anteaters evened their record at 6-6 on the year.
The 6-0 opposite hitter notched 16 kills in 28 errorless attempts against the Bruins for a .571 hitting percentage. The next night against Oregon State, Kekauoha slammed a career-high 18 kills (18-3-34), hitting .441 to go along with a career-best six block assists and three service aces.
Kekauoha then registered 13 kills and seven digs in the win over the Toreros, upping her personal-best total in block assists to seven.
She averaged 4.27 kills, 2.09 digs and 1.27 blocks per set while hitting a robust .363 (47-10-102) for the week.
Others nominated: Adlee Van Winden (Cal Poly); Alexis Urbach (UC Riverside)
Net Play Earns Akpakpa Defensive Honor
UC Irvine freshman Idara Akpakpa (Brentwood, Calif./Liberty HS) forceful play at the net resulted in her first career Big West Women’s Volleyball Defensive Player of the Week award.
A 6-0 middle blocker, Akpakpa led the Anteater blocking charge as success in that area spurred the team to victories over No. 21 San Diego and Oregon State.
Akpakpa averaged 1.36 blocks per set, including a personal-best seven block assists in the win over the Beavers. She added six block assists in the upset win over the Toreros, and chipped in offensively with eight kills and just one error in 18 attempts, representing a career-best .389 hitting percentage.
Others nominated: Nicole Kessler (Cal Poly); Kendall Walbrecht (UC Davis); Savanah Kahakai (Hawai‘i)