Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pac 12 | Coaches decide nation’s #1 blocker is not worthy of All-Conf honors


Washington’s Amanda Gil snubbed; Vansant, Muñoz and Strickland honored

Washington's Amanda Gil leads the nation in blocks per set
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann
Nearly 4,000 athletes are on the rosters of women’s Division 1 volleyball teams this season.

Of all those players, Washington’s Amanda Gil put up more blocks per set than any other: 1.79. She was, statistically, the most dominating blocker in the country.

When the Pac 12’s coaches filled out their ballots for the conference’s best athletes, they didn’t overlook middle blockers. The list of 14 first team selections and 14 honorable mentions included seven middles: Stanford’s Carly Wopat, Stanford’s Inky Ajanaku, Oregon’s Ariana Williams, USC’s Alexis Olgard, UCLA’s Zoe Nightingale, Cal’s Shannon Hawari and Utah’s Erin Redd. Four other middles not on that list were also honored on the All-Freshman teams.

But not Washington senior Amanda Gil.

“It’s disappointing,” says Washington coach Jim McLaughlin.

As expected, Washington sophomore outside hitter Krista Vansant was named to the All-Conference first team. Senior outside hitter Kylin Muñoz was All-Conference Honorable Mention, and outside hitter Cassie Strickland was All-Freshman Honorable Mention.

But it’s the snub of Gil that stands out.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Krista, Kylin or Cassie,” says McLaughlin. “All of them are deserving. But I can’t believe the number one blocker in the nation isn’t on the list. I’ve never seen it happen before.”

Gil played two years at UCLA, where she was conference Freshman of the Year and second-team All-American as a sophomore. She transferred to Washington just days after the end of her sophomore season, seeking a different academic curriculum (she was the only Huskies player to earn All-District academic honors this season.) Under Pac-12 transfer rules, she had to sit out her junior season, then lost all of last season to a leg injury.

“I don’t know,” says McLaughlin, “maybe there were some feelings about her transferring. I can’t imagine they’d let that influence them.”

And yet, how to explain the seven middles pick ahead of her? Gil is not an offensive powerhouse—she’s hitting .246 this season. But hitting is not Gil’s role on one of the top offensive teams in the conference, and she is the best blocker on a team that leads the entire nation (328 teams) in blocks per set. And Gil has no off-court issues: she is among the most polite and easygoing players in the conference.

All-American teams are selected by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, and appearance on an All-Conference team is not a prerequisite. AVCA’s All-District selections will be announced soon, and the final All-American candidates will come from that list.

Other observations:
  • Coaches got all the major awards right: Oregon’s Alaina Bergsma is Player of the Year; USC’s Samantha Bricio is Freshman of the Year; Oregon’s Lauren Plum is Setter of the Year; USC’s Natalie Hagglund is Libero of the Year. Stanford’s John Dunning is Coach of the Year, the fourth time he has won that award.
  • The All-Conference First Team includes an astonishing five freshmen, three of them from Stanford.
  • Stanford, Oregon and USC each placed a total of five players on the All-Conference team (First Team and Honorable Mention); UCLA and Washington each had three. Stanford had four players on the All-Freshman First Team.
  • Only 14 players make the First Team, and another 14 earn Honorable Mention. There are good arguments that UCLA’s Rachel Kidder did not have the kind of season that justifies another First Team selection. That said, both Gil and UCLA’s Zoe Nightingale (Honorable Mention) were obvious candidates to take Kidder’s place.
  • Other than Gil, the most glaring omission was UCLA fireplug Kelly Reeves. The Bruins are an entirely different—and better—team any time she’s on the court.
  • We would have put Washington sophomore Kaleigh Nelson at Honorable Mention ahead of 3-4 other players on the list.
  • As usual, defensive players got short shrift. Only two liberos—Hagglund and Oregon’s Haley Jacob—made the All-Conference list; no freshmen liberos or defensive specialists were honored.
  • Plum’s dominance at setter was underscored by the fact that no other setter made the All-Conference team.

2012 Pac-12 All-Conference
WASHINGTON



Krista Vansant
OH
So
1st team
Kylin Muñoz
OH
Sr
Hon. Men.
STANFORD



Inky Ajanaku
MB
Fr
1st team
Jordan Burgess
OH
Fr
1st team
Brittany Howard
OH
Fr
1st team
Carly Wopat
MB
Jr
1st team
Rachel Williams
OH
Jr
Hon. Men.
OREGON



Alaina Bergsma
OH
Sr
1st team
Liz Brenner
OH
So
1st team
Lauren Plum
S
Jr
1st team
Haley Jacob
L
Sr
Hon. Men.
Ariana Williams
MB
Jr
Hon. Men.
USC



Samantha Bricio
OH
Fr
1st team
Natalie Hagglund
L
Jr
1st team
Katie Fuller
OH
Sr
Hon. Men.
Alexis Olgard
MB
Jr
Hon. Men.
Sara Shaw
OH
Jr
Hon. Men.
UCLA



Rachael Kidder
OH
Sr
1st team
Tabi Love
OH
Sr
1st team
Zoe Nightingale
MB
So
Hon. Men.
CALIFORNIA



Shannon Hawari
MH
Sr
1st team
Correy Johnson
OH
Sr
Hon. Men.
ARIZONA ST



Macey Gardner
OH
Fr
1st team
Erica Wilson
OH
Sr
Hon. Men.
ARIZONA



Madi Kingdon
OH
So
Hon. Men.
OREGON ST



Camille Saxton
OH
Sr
Hon. Men.
UTAH



Erin Redd
MB
Jr
Hon. Men.
WASHINGTON ST



Jaicee Harris
OH
So
Hon. Men.

2012 Pac-12 All-Freshman
WASHINGTON


Cassie Strickland
OH
Hon. Men.
STANFORD


Inky Ajanaku
MB
1ST Team
Madi Bugg
S
1ST Team
Jordan Burgess
OH
1ST Team
Brittany Howard
OH
1ST Team
USC


Samantha Bricio
OH
1ST Team
Alicia Ogoms
MB
Hon. Men.
ARIZONA ST


Macey Gardner
OH
1ST Team
Allison Palmer
S
1ST Team
ARIZONA


Halli Amaro
MB
Hon. Men.
Olivia Magill
MB
Hon. Men.
COLORADO


Alexis Austin
MB
Hon. Men.
Nicole Edelman
S
Hon. Men.
UCLA


Becca Strehlow
S
Hon. Men.

NOTES:
  • Vansant, recovering from an ankle injury, is once again practicing with the team. You’ll have a chance to ask her about her recovery—and other pressing issues—when she is the guest of The Seattle Times on a live chat this Thursday at 1PM

2 comments:

  1. This creates the perfect scenario for Amanda to light up the NCAA Volleyball world with a super effort in the tournament. Put your name on the map girl and let your efforts and skills talk. Go Amanda Go Dawgs!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Players who are unable to perform the normal duties of a position... ala Gil and offense... are seldom honored... fairly or not.

    ReplyDelete

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