Familiar Faces Aplenty On All-Conference List
2017 Big West All-Conference
The 2017 Big West Conference Champion, Cal Poly, nabbed two of the top three awards, while UC Davis earned the final honor. From Cal Poly, Taylor Nelson was named Big West Player of the Year and Big West Coach of the Year was awarded to Sam Crosson. Grabbing the final award was UC Davis’ Mahalia White, who was named Big West Freshman of the Year.
Nelson becomes just the second setter in 18 years, and the first Cal Poly player since 2011, to earn Big West Player of the Year distinction. Under her leadership, the Mustangs are hitting a league best .314 to rank sixth in the country and have three players ranked in the league’s top 10 in hitting percentage, including Savannah Niemen who owns the top spot with a .398 clip to sit 18th in the country.
The Granite Bay, Calif., native ranks fifth in the nation in assists per set with an average of 11.90. Nelson recorded seven double-doubles on the year, including a 51-assist, 24-dig performance against UC Santa Barbara on November 3, a career-high mark in digs. For her efforts this season she was named Big West Player of the Week twice. With this year’s honor, Nelson becomes Cal Poly’s fourth Big West Player of the Year recipient.
In her first season at UC Davis, White registered 398 kills this season, which surpasses Allison Whitson’s mark of 370 (2009) for the most kills by an Aggie freshman. The Canoga Park, Calif., native paces UC Davis and ranks fifth in the Big West with a 3.55 kills per set average. White’s 46 blocks this season places her third on the Aggie squad. For her accomplishments throughout the season, the six-foot outside hitter earned five Big West Freshman Player of the Week nods. White becomes the first Aggie to earn freshman of the year accolades.
In his sixth season at the helm of the Mustangs’ program, Crosson guided Cal Poly (26-2) to its first conference title in 10 years with a perfect 16-0 record. It’s the first time the Mustangs were undefeated in conference play and the 11th time in Big West history a school has posted a perfect mark in league action. With the conference crown, the Mustangs earned a spot in the NCAA DI Women’s Volleyball Championship for the first time since 2007, 15th overall, and they enter the postseason riding a 21-match winning streak. The Mustangs dominated their opponents while building its historic season as they swept the opposition in 19 of their 26 victories. The Mustangs’ two losses this year were against Top 25 opponents - No. 8 Washington and No. 14 Oregon. Crosson, collecting his first Big West Coach of the Year honor, becomes the third coach in Cal Poly history to earn the coach of the year distinction as Jon Stevenson (2006, 2007) and Mike Wilton (1985, 1989) were also honored for their accomplishments.
Seven teams were represented on the first team with Cal Poly leading the way with five selections apiece. Hawai’i snagged four spots on the first team and UC Irvine secured three honors. CSUN, Long Beach State, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara each picked up one selection.
Familiar faces comprise this year’s first team list as Cal Poly’s Raeann Greisen and Taylor Nelson, UC Irvine’s Harlee Kekauoha and Hawai’i’s Emily Maglio are all receiving their third honor of their careers. Collecting their second first team accolade are Cal Poly’s Adlee Van Winden, CSUN’s Aeryn Owens, UC Santa Barbara’s Lindsey Ruddins and Hawai’i’s Norene Iosia and Savanah Kahakai.