IRVINE, Calif.-The University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team’s hard work in the Big West was recognized on Monday in the conference’s annual awards. Head coach Dave Shoji was named Big West Coach of the Year while junior Nikki Taylor earned Player of the Year honors. Four Rainbow Wahine-Olivia Magill, Emily Maglio, Tai Manu-Olevao, and Taylor were all selected to the Big West’s first team.Kalei Greeley and Savanah Kahakai both earned honorable mention honors.
Taylor (Honolulu, O’ahu/Kaiser HS) is the seventh Rainbow Wahine to be named Big West Player of the Year and the 24th overall UH player to earn the conference honor in program history. Taylor led the Big West in three statistical categories – points (kills+blocks+service aces), kills and service aces. Taylor finished the regular season ranked No. 5 in the NCAA averaging 5.46 points per set; No. 19 in kills per set (4.36); and No. 21 in service ace average (.43). The 6-foot 4 opposite earned a UH-record tying, five Big West Player of the Week honors over the course of the season-the highest single-season total since Cal Poly’s Kylie Atherstone garnered six in 2007. Taylor also received AVCA/Sports Imports and ESPNW National Player of the Week awards (Sept. 14) following an impressive performance at the Outrigger Resort Volleyball Challenge that included a career-best 27-kill performance against then-No. 2 Florida. With this year’s distinction, Taylor becomes the eighth Rainbow Wahine to capture Big West Player of the Year and the third in four years since UH rejoined the league, as UH’s Emily Hartong earned the accolade in both 2012 and 2013. Taylor also earned first-team conference honors for the third straight season. She will lead Hawai’i in its 34th NCAA Tournament this week as the Rainbow Wahine travel to College Station, Texas where they will battle TCU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament starting on Friday, Dec. 4.
Coach Shoji, earned his fifth Big West Coach of the Year accolade after guiding the Rainbow Wahine to their eighth Big West title with a perfect 16-0 conference record. Overall, it marks Shoji’s 14th conference Coach of the Year honor (5-Big West, 8-WAC, 1-PCAA). Hawai’i became just the 10th team to finish the Big West season undefeated and the fourth Hawai’i team to master the feat in the Big West. Overall, Shoji has led his squad to 15 total (11 WAC) undefeated conference seasons. Along with an unblemished conference mark, Hawai’i tallied an impressive 26-1 overall record and ended the season on a 21-match win streak. UH’s only loss on the season was to UCLA, who finished the regular season ranked 13th in the nation, on Sept. 6. While leading the conference in six statistical categories, Shoji has also guided the Rainbow Wahine to the nation’s best block average of 3.29 and the fifth-best opponent hitting percentage of .142.
Magill, a 6-1 middle hitter, led the conference overall with a .413 hitting percentage and 1.53 blocks per set average. The senior from Shoreline, Wash. is ranked No. 7 in the NCAA in blocks per set and No. 17 in the nation in hitting percentage. She also led the big wets in total blocks (139), solo blocks (16) and block assists (123). For the transfer from the University of Arizona, it is the second straight year that she’s earned first-team conference honors.
Maglio, a sophomore from Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada, had a breakout season, finished the regular season right behind fellow middle hitter Magill. Maglio was No. 2 in the Big West with a .395 hitting percentage and 1.24 blocks per set. In conference games only, Maglio actually led UH with a .438 hitting percentage and 1.48 blocks per set. Overall, she recorded 149 kills with just 34 errors in 291 swings. It is Maglio’s first all-conference honor.
Manu-Olevao, a senior outside hitter from Hilo, Hawai’i and Punahou School, earned her second first-team Big West honor after burying 237 kills with 166 digs, 16 service aces, and 43 blocks. She currently has a career-high .227 overall hitting percentage and is second on the team with 13 solo blocks this season.
Greeley earned honorable mention honors after earning all-freshman team honors last year. The sophomore outside hitter from Riverside, Calif. was steady all season, putting down 178 kills (2.12 per set) with a .252 hitting percentage. She also tallied 15 service aces, 178 digs and 45 blocks overall thus far.
Kahakai, a sophomore libero from Honolulu, O’ahu and Farrington HS, earned her first all-conference award being named honorable mention as well. Kahakai and Magill were the only two players to start all 27 matches this season for UH. Kahakai anchored the defense with 354 digs (3.85 per set). She also contributed with 72 assists and had 14 service aces.
Seven teams were represented on the first team with Hawai’i and Cal Poly leading the way with four selections apiece. Long Beach State earned three nods, UC Davis nabbed two and CSUN, UC Irvine and UC Riverside each picked up one selection.