Thursday, May 6, 2021

Whitney Bower, right, and the BYU women's volleyball team celebrate a point at the Smith Fieldhouse. Bower was named WCC Player of the Year and Setter of the Year this week. (Preston Crawley)

BYU women’s volleyball collects WCC Player of the Year and Coach of the Year

West Coast Conference coaches voted this week on the end-of-season conference honors and awarded eight BYU players and coaches for their performance this season. 

Head coach Heather Olmstead was named Coach of the Year for the third time and sophomore setter Whitney Bower brought home the WCC Player of the Year and Setter of the Year titles. Bower was also named to the All-WCC first team.

Senior outside hitter Taylen Ballard-Nixon, senior middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg and sophomore opposite Kate Grimmer were also named to the WCC first team.

Freshman libero Madi Allen was named to the WCC second team and freshman outside hitter Erin Livingston was given All-WCC honorable mention. Allen, Livingston and freshman middle blocker Leilani Dodson were all named to the WCC All-Freshman team.

Olmstead secured her third WCC Coach of the Year award after leading BYU to a 16-1 season and collecting the outright WCC Championship for the fifth time since she took over in 2015. She has led BYU to four Sweet 16 appearances and the Final Four in 2018.

BYU collected its sixth Player of the Year award overall and third in a row: Roni Jones-Perry in 2018, McKenna Miller in 2019 and Whitney Bower 2020-21. Bower also became the first BYU player to collect the WCC Setter of the Year award.

Bower, a two-time All-WCC honoree, averaged 10.83 assists, 3.43 digs and 0.81 kills per match. She led one of the nation’s most efficient offenses with BYU being ranked fifth in assists per set with 13.56, fifth in team hitting percentage at .312 and ninth in kills per set at 14.40.

Ballard-Nixon secured her first All-WCC honor after a fantastic senior campaign. Ballard-Nixon led the Cougars with 3.83 kills per set and 4.14 points per set. The senior also added 28 blocks, 53 aces and 104 digs over the season.

Eschenberg, a two-time All-WCC first-teamer and coming off her third consecutive week as WCC Defensive Player of the Week, dominated on the court. Eschenberg ranked sixth in the country with 1.52 blocks per set and 11th in attack efficiency with a .459 hitting percentage. 

Grimmer pocketed her first All-WCC first-team award after averaging 2.92 kills per set and attacking on a .341 hitting percentage, third-best in the WCC. Grimmer also tallied 33 blocks and 29 digs during conference play.

Allen tallied 217 digs in 53 sets, averaging 4.09 digs per set, and 14 aces over conference play. Livingston earned All-WCC honorable mention after putting up 129 kills, 31 blocks and 27 digs. Dodson tallied 104 kills, 41 blocks, 20 digs and 14 aces to secure her WCC All-Freshman spot.

After receiving the No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a first round bye, the Cougars are preparing for their appearance in the second round on April 15 in Omaha, Nebraska, against either Rider or UCLA.

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