Sophomore libero Hailey Harward received the top honor of First Team All-Big West Conference, while junior outside hitter Megan Kruidhof and sophomore middle blocker YiZhi Xue were awarded honorable mentions. Freshman middle blocker Radi Marinova would also be the only member on the team to receive First Team All-Freshman.
“When I found out I was so honored,” Harward said. “I didn’t expect to make anything since I split time at two positions.”
Harward played libero for half of the season until injuries plagued the outside hitter position. For the rest of the year she took on the role of go-to hitter, producing big numbers for the team. Harward ended the season with 120 kills, while adding 394 digs and 24 blocks. Even with the second half of the season being solely focused on hitting, Harward would rank fifth in the conference in total digs.
Kruidhof played a big role at the beginning of the season, taking on the starting outside hitter position. It was a new place for her, but she took it on with no hesitation.
“It means a lot to get recognized now that I am stepping into a much different role than before,” Kruidhof said. “It shows the hard work I put in, on and off the court.”
She ended the year with 343 kills, 136 digs and 50 blocks. Kruidhof did it all for the 49ers this season, but she understood that she had to continue to improve.
“This just pushes me further to next year to receive mentions on the second or even first team,” Kruidhof said.
Xue had a strong second campaign with an impressive 1.02 blocks per set, ranking her third in the conference. She also added 199 kills.
Marinova started a majority of games this season and was highly effective, contributing 105 kills and 42 blocks. Marinova may compete for the starting spot next season, and has earned some well deserved playing time.
All four players will be returning next season to compete for the Big West Conference title and make a run at the NCAA championship.