AZUSA, Calif.-- Three Azusa Pacific women’s volleyball players received All-Pacific West Conference honors, the conference announced Wednesday.
Senior middle blocker Christy Cain highlighted the list, receiving second-team honors, while outside hitters sophomore Mattie Shelford and junior Alicia Utke earned third-team and honorable recognition respectively after the Cougars posted a 21-10, 13-7 campaign to finish in fifth place in the PacWest standings.
“It’s nice to have three girls honored for their hard work. Each of them did a really good job this year and are all deserving,” said head coach Chris Keife. “To have three players recognized shows that we’re going in the right direction in where we want to be as a program.”
Cain finished second in the PacWest in attack percentage (.358), tabbing 325 kills. She ranks No. 12 on the program’s all-time block list, with a total of 304 over the past four years. Cain recorded the most productive season of her four-year career, posting personal bests in kills, attack percentage, and blocks (102).
“It’s been great to see her blossom this season. She came in as a freshman, and was learning the ropes. As a sophomore she became a starter, and since then has battled through tough injuries,” said Keife. “I’m happy to see her senior year as her coming out year. I’m happy to see the player she’s become. It’s been fun to watch.”
Shelford ranked ninth in the conference in kills, registering 335 on the season with a .277 attack percentage. The outside hitter also finished third on the team with 53 blocks, and was the team’s go-to hitter in crucial situations. The sophomore led the team in kills, and her .277 attack percentage was the best among Cougar outside hitters.
“Mattie stepped up into a role of our terminator on the court. She brings a lot of power. When we need someone to step up and get a point we look towards her,” said Keife. “Her knowledge and decision making has helped her grow into the play she’s become, and I’m excited that we still have two more years with her.”
In her first year with the program Utke ranked tenth in the PacWest in digs, with 421 on the season, and also finished third on the team in kills (279), becoming the first Cougar since 2009 with 400+ digs and 200+ kills in one season. She also led Azusa Pacific with 13 double-doubles, and posted a season-high 20 kills in a 3-1 victory over Cal State Monterey Bay on Sept. 14.
“Alicia has all of the tools of a six-rotation player. She defends well, receives well, and serves well. She’s a great athlete on the court,” said Keife. “For her to get thrown into the mix in her first year, and do what she did is impressive. She’s done a good job adjusting and doing things differently than she’s done in the past, and I’m really happy with what she’s done for us.”