Pac-12 announces volleyball players of the week

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - The Pac-12 Conference office announced the Pac-12 Volleyball Players of the Week for the week of Nov. 25-Dec. 1. STANFORD’s Inky Ajanaku was named Offensive Player of the Week, while ARIZONA’s Candace Nicholson was named Defensive Player of the Week. USC’s Ebony Nwanebu was voted Freshman of the Week for a Conference-record sixth time this season.

Sophomore middle blocker Inky Ajanaku (Tulsa, Okla.) averaged 4.29 kills and 5.21 points per set on a .489 hitting percentage as Stanford swept Arizona on the road before defeating California in four sets at home last week. At Arizona, Ajanaku set a new season high with 15 kills on a .565 attack percentage. She also led all players with seven blocks against the Wildcats as the Cardinal recorded its 19th sweep of the season. At home against rival California, she again registered 15 kills for Stanford as the team notched its fourth-consecutive win over the Golden Bears.  

Senior libero Candace Nicholson (Long Beach, Calif.) recorded a career-high 36 digs in her final career home match against rival Arizona State, helping the Wildcats earn a 3-1 victory over the Sun Devils. The 36 digs were the second most in school history, just one shy of the record. Nicholson owns the school record for career digs with 1,620 and digs in a season with 490. The single-match mark of 36 is also tied for the most in the Pac-12 this season. The senior recorded 10 digs and one assist earlier in the week as Arizona fell in three sets to Stanford. 

Outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu (Fairview, Texas) reached double digits in kills over the course of the weekend to help USC earn two sweeps over UCLA and Colorado, giving her 10-straight matches with double-digit kill figures. On the road at UCLA, the freshman recorded 12 kills on 23 attempts with only one error for a hitting percentage of .478, adding four digs and one block. At home against the Buffs, Nwanebu hit at a .375 percentage, posting 11 kills on 24 attempts with two errors, two digs and two blocks. In Pac-12 play, she is the only outside hitter and the only freshman to rank in the top 10 for hitting percentage, standing at fifth with a .354 mark. 

It is Stanford’s 88th overall weekly award and Ajanaku’s first-career offensive weekly honor. She previously received Freshman of the Week last year in her first season with the Cardinal. The defensive accolade is Nicholson’s first-career honor and Arizona’s 32nd all-time weekly recognition. Nwanebu has now earned Freshman of the Week six times this season which is a Pac-12 record, breaking the previous mark of five times that was set by USC teammate Samantha Bricio. It is the Trojans’ 12th weekly freshman award. 

Weekly awards have been selected every week of the season since the Conference began sponsoring women’s volleyball in 1986. It is the third year the Pac-12 has announced an offensive, defensive and rookie honoree. Freshman of the week honors are not included in the all-time totals for each institution.

All three teams earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament, with Stanford and USC hosting first- and second-round matches on their home courts. The Cardinal faces Hampton in its first-round match at 7 p.m. PT, while the Trojans take on New Hampshire at 7:30 p.m. PT, both on Thursday, Dec. 5. Arizona travels to San Diego, Calif. to take on New Mexico State at 5 p.m. PT on Friday, Dec. 6.  

Also Nominated:
OFFENSIVE:
Madi Kingdon, ARIZ; Taylor Simpson, COLO; Arianna Williams, ORE; Samantha Bricio, USC; Morgan Odale, UTAH; Krista Vansant, WASH. 

DEFENSIVE: Taylor Simpson, COLO; Liz Brenner, ORE; Kyle Gilbert, STAN; Natalie Hagglund, USC; Erin Redd-Brandon, UTAH; Cassie Strickland, WASH. 

FRESHMAN: Penina Snuka, ARIZ; Cierra Simpson, COLO; Amanda Benson, ORE. 

2013 Pac-12 Women’s Volleyball Players of the Week

Sept. 2 Karsta Lowe, UCLA Erin Redd-Brandon, UTAH Ebony Nwanebu, USC
Sept. 9 Macey Gardner, ASU Jenna Orlandini, WASH Kyra Holt, WSU
Sept. 16 Krista Vansant, WASH Bianca Arellano, ASU Elise Ruddins, USC
Sept. 23 Madi Kingdon, ARIZ Becky Defoe, OSU Penina Snuka, ARIZ
Sept. 30 Krista Vansant, WASH Nikki Lindow, COLO Ebony Nwanebu, USC
Oct. 7 Alexis Olgard, USC Natalie Hagglund, USC Ebony Nwanebu, USC
Oct. 14 Carly Wopat, STAN Chelsey Schofield, UTAH Ebony Nwanebu, USC
Oct. 21 Madi Kingdon, ARIZ Krista Vansant, WASH Penina Snuka, ARIZ
Oct. 28 Lianna Sybeldon, WASH Erin Redd-Brandon, UTAH Maddy Kerr, CAL
Nov. 4 Samantha Bricio, USC Natalie Hagglund, USC Kyra Holt, WSU
Nov. 11 Christina Higgins, CAL Jenna Orlandini, WASH Ebony Nwanebu, USC
Nov. 18 Krista Vansant, WASH Carly Wopat, STAN Kyra Holt, WSU
Nov. 25 Rachel Williams, STAN Arianna Williams, ORE Kyra Holt, WSU
Dec. 2 Inky Ajanaku, STAN Candace Nicholson, ARIZ Ebony Nwanebu, USC
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