The Western Washington University volleyball team head into the 2018 season as the defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) champions after posting a 27-4 overall record and 19-1 league mark during the 2017 season.
Nineteenth-year head coach Diane Flick-Williams (394-103 career record) returns a veteran-laden squad for 2018 that includes 6 starters from last season and 10 returning letterwinners.
In addition to winning last season’s GNAC Championship, the eighth title in program history, the Vikings have advanced to the NCAA Division II Championships in each of the last six seasons and have played for the West Region championship each of the last three seasons. WWU finished the 2017 season ranked No. 7 AVCA Division II coaches poll and have been ranked in each of the last 80 national polls.
“We are excited to hit the ground running and work hard to prepare for what is going to be a challenging opening to the season,” said Flick-Williams. “We had a productive offseason and are really excited about opportunities that we have as a program in 2018.”
The Vikings open the 20-match conference schedule with a pair of home matches in Bellingham on WECU Court in Carver Gym on the following dates:
- Thursday, Sept. 6 vs. Seattle Pacific
- Saturday, Sept. 8 vs. Saint Martin’s
- Thursday, Sept. 20 vs. Alaska Fairbanks
- Saturday, Sept. 22 vs. Alaska Anchorage
- Saturday, Sept. 29 vs. Montana State Billings
- Thursday, Oct. 11 vs. Central Washington
- Saturday, Oct. 13 vs. Northwest Nazarene
- Tuesday, Oct. 23 vs. Simon Fraser
- Thursday, Nov. 1 vs. Western Oregon
- Saturday, Nov. 3 vs. Concordia
All home matches start at 7 p.m. on the WWU campus.
Senior outside hitter Abby Phelps (Manson, WA/Chelan), the 2017 GNAC Player of the Year and a First Team AVCA All-American, leads a group of six returning starters, along with All-GNAC performers Michaela Hall (Sr., Middle, Centralia, WA) and Brette Boesel (Sr., Setter, Brewster, WA). Junior middle Kayleigh Harper (Oak Harbor, WA), a two-time First Team All-GNAC selection, returns for her junior season after sitting out last 2017. Additionally, junior middle Joslyn Bopray (Spokane, WA/Lewis & Clark) returns after finishing 2nd in the nation averaging 1.45 blocks per set and senior defensive specialist Aubrey (Buckner) Stephens (Colville, WA) will look to lead the defense after averaging 5.26 digs per set and earning NCAA II West Regional All-Tournament honors.
The Vikings will be looking to make their seventh consecutive trip to the 2018 NCAA Division II West Regional Championships, which will be held November 15-17 at an on-campus site. The winner of the West Regional will advance to the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament in Pittsburgh, Penn., as a part of the NCAA Division II Fall Festival hosted by Slippery Rock University, SportsPITTSBURGH and Clarion University at the A.J. Palumbo Center on the campus of Duquesne University.
Fans can follow WWU Volleyball online at WWUVikings.com/VB, and via social media on Twitter (@WWUVolleyball), Instagram (@WWUVB) and Facebook (@WWUVolleyball).
About WWU Volleyball:
The WWU volleyball program has risen to elite level by advancing to the NCAA Division II Championships in six consecutive seasons and 12 of the last 17 dating back to the 2001 season. The winner of eight Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships, Western won the league title in 2017 by posting a 19-1 league record and were 27-4 overall. Led by 19-year head coach Diane Flick-Williams, the Vikings have posted a 145-33 record over the last six seasons (.815 winning percentage) and have played in the NCAA II West Region championship match each of the last three seasons (2015, 2016, 2017). WWU played for the NCAA II national championship in 2007 finishing 2nd in the nation and advanced to the NCAA II Final Four in 2015.
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