Shoji calls AVCA team selections a ‘joke’
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Shoji calls AVCA team selections a ‘joke’

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji questions a call Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, during the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship in Des Moines, Iowa.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji questions a call Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, during the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship in Des Moines, Iowa.

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As disappointing as it was for Hawaii not to reach the final four as a team, it was more disappointing to coach Dave Shoji that his two all-region players did not receive higher recognition on the AVCA All-America team announced on Wednesday.

Although junior opposite Nikki Taylor was named to the second team and senior middle Olivia Magill to the third team, “it’s an absolute joke,” said Shoji, who also tweeted his displeasure. “Clearly the committee did not consider players outside the top five conferences very seriously. Disrespected by the NCAA and now by the AVCA.

“Both players had great seasons and deserved to be recognized, but Nikki should have been first team. There are not 14 better volleyball players in the country than her. You look at the numbers from other (NCAA) tournament teams like Florida and UCLA, and Nikki’s numbers were phenomenal, including the three wins we had in the tournament.

“And Magill … in my opinion she’s in the upper echelon of middle blockers. I think the committee doesn’t have respect for our team and our conference. The only way it’s going to change is to change the (selection) committee.”

Of the 14-member second team, Taylor was the only player from a non-Power Five conference. Magill was one of four on the 14-member third team. BYU senior hitter hitter Alexa Gray was the only one on the 14-member first team, becoming the first three-time All-American in Cougar program history.

With the selection of the two, Hawaii now has 56 AVCA All-America certificates honoring 29 individual players. Hawaii also has 13 AIAW All-American awards honoring nine athletes from 1974-80, the seasons prior to the NCAA sponsorship of the sport.

The pair are the first Wahine honored since Emily Hartong’s second first-team selection in 2013. It also is the first time since 2011 that at least two Hawaii players were name; Kanani Danielson was first team and Hartong second team.

“Being first team was something I was working for all season,” said Taylor, a two-time All-American in beach volleyball. “I’m a little confused but I understand the politics of it.

“Second team is still huge and I’m really honored and humbled by it. First team is what I want and it gives me something to work for next season.”

Taylor, the Big West player of the year, ranks in the top 45 nationally in five categories (fifth in points average, 16th in kill average, 20th in total points, 38th in total aces and 45 in total kills. The Kaiser High product finished the year with team highs of 468 kills — nine shy of 1,000 for her career — 44 aces and 575.5 points.

This season, the 6-foot-4 Taylor tied Danielson and Angelica Ljungqvist for most conference player of the week honors, being named five times, including three straight to open the season. She also received AVCA/Sports Imports and ESPNW National Player of the Week awards the week of September 14, a performance that including a career-best 27 kills in the five-set win over then-No. 2 Florida.

Magill, one of just two Rainbow Wahine to start all 31 matches, was ranked in the top 16 nationally in block average (15th, 1.44 bps) and hitting percentage (16th, .412). The transfer from Arizona led the Big West in total blocks (153) and hitting percentage, and was second to Taylor on the team in kills (281) and points (366.5).

“I gave it my all,” said the Shoreline, Wash., native. “Where I’m disappointed is I don’t feel I had the senior year I had hoped for. From Arizona to here I do feel that I improved and have proved something to those who doubted my abilities.

“It all went by so fast and it was bittersweet. Everyone’s goal was to end the season with a win.”

Hawaii (29-2, 16-0 Big West) reached the regional final for the first time since 2009, also the last time the Rainbow Wahine advanced to the final four. It was the first time since Long Beach State in 2001 that a Big West team made the elite eight; Hawaii had done so in 2002, ’03, ’06, ’08 and ’09 as a member of the Western Athletic Conference, with final four appearances in ’02, ’03 and ’09.

Also named to the second team was Texas A&M junior middle Jazzmin Babers, the daughter of former Wahine Sue Hemenway Babers and former Warrior Dino Babers.

35 comments

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  • Auwe but good for Shoji. Strong response necessary for strong neglect, i.e., committee’s perceived lack of diligence/integrity. You can only call Taylor 2nd team if you’ve chosen: a) not to perform the due diligence required of committee members entrusted to vet & vote responsibly b) to ignore diligence and voting guidelines completely for the sole purpose of self-interest or advancing the interests of your conference c) to callously disregard the year-round sacrifices of student-athletes who did all they could to earn their rightful place among the very best of their peers.

  • The challenge for Nikki Taylor will be to increase her hitting percentage above 30%, maybe then she’ll earn respect. It can be done by increasing her vertical leap during off-season conditioning.

  • It’s not lack of respect for Hawaii…It’s lack of respect for the conference but I don’t blame them. In NCAA football if a Big West team went 13 – 0 there is no way the team would be ranked in the top 10. Same goes for the team’s players….No respect! Facts are facts. UH must join the Pac 12 if they want recognition.

      • FYI ŪH in fact was considered and conditionally invited back before the PAc 12. The condition was that a guarantee commitment from UH to invest in infrastructure to the buildings and facilities that was most in need. UH balked via the State senate citing lack of funds.

  • a biased NCAA & AVCA committee ABSOLUTELY NEEDS TO BE CHANGED OUT… agree Coach!

    lets prove to the country and this so called committees by winning out next year!!

    Go na Wahine, Go BOWS!!!!

  • Just a thought, maybe the strongest Mid-Conference and independent volleyball teams should have their on volleyball conference and beat the heck out of the bigger conferences in the selections. Oh yeah, just a dream….

    • gth, this is a good idea. If we can’t join them, then we’ll make our own power conference. The ADs/HCs of non-Big-5 programs that routinely crash the NCAA’s Big-5 parties ought to put their heads together to come up with a conference scheme that gives them the power they lack in isolated weaker conferences. Together, they’d have a better chance to break the 5-player monopoly.

  • Nikki Taylor not making 1st team is a complete joke. Magill should be 2nd team at worst. Looks like this snub is somethng to post in the locker room. “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up. ” (Vince Lombardi). The National Championship next year will eliminate all these skeptics. Barring injuries, UH will be fielding a great, great team next year. The best players should be taking UH to the top.

  • I understand Dave’s feelings about the lack of recognition but you get respect by winning all the way to the top.
    Getting close counts only when you play horseshoes and getting dominated that last game did not help.

    • You might want to check the first team there are two Stanford players and they didn’t even make it pass the first round. There goes your must win to get respect.

  • As oioman states, it’s the Big West Conference that’s our problem. With the exception of Long Beach State and maybe the occasional upstart, UH pretty much cruises through conference play because the other teams are, frankly, bad. Others mention we need to do better, but this season, we went 26-1, sweeping most of the teams we played. Not much room for improvement. If we’re not going to be invited to the PAC-12 or some other Power 5 conference, then the only thing we can do is schedule only highly ranked non-conference matches to build up our RPI which will surely be lowered once conference play starts.

  • Cry all you want but, unless UH proves beyond the weak conference, that they can compete every year at the highest level, this is as good as it gets. I would guess, NONE of you have seen the other All Americans in action (except if they played UH) so you have no objective basis to state whether Taylor got screwed or not. One thing for sure is that the selected all stars from power conferences excelled against better competition week after week. If UH was in Pac 12, is their anyone in their right mind who thinks Taylor would have had the same lofty numbers or the team would have won as much?

    • We’ve seen Taylor for three years now, and we’ve seen her in games against the best teams in the country. And in every game, she showed that the opposition can’t stop her. They can slow her down, double- or triple-team her, but they can’t stop her. No other dominant hitter in the country can match her in overall defense, and no other player period can match her in terms of the load that she carries on her shoulders for the entire team. Taylor should not only be first team All-America, but she should also be POY. Taylor is Wonder Woman, and she’ll prove it next year.

      • What the committee is saying, Taylor needs to have those numbers against tough teams THROUGHOUT the season… for more than pre conference and post conference play. Because they are guessing that she wouldn’t have those numbers when she has to face tough competition match in match out. It’s that simple.

    • Although Taylor has performed well against the top tier teams she has faced, we will never know how well she would do facing them for a whole season. I agree with you that the AA’s from the power conferences do post their numbers against top competition week after week. My only thought is I hope that the committee gives consideration for a 6 rotation player like Taylor.

  • Reminds me of when the Nissan spondered 10-15 athletes of the year was run by the old Advertiser sportswriter mafia, and they insisted on placating their pals in the AD departments of the high schools, particularly Kamehameha

  • I also believe Taylor was left out. However, Shoji ( arguably my favorite UH Coach), should show more restraint. He is a professional and gets his way also. She did deserve All american Honors!