By Alex Dupille
From the Great Northwest Athletic Conference playoffs to all-conference honors, the Vikings’ volleyball team have a lot to be proud of.
Junior outside hitter Abby Phelps won the GNAC Player of the Year award, while coach Diane Flick-WIlliams won the GNAC Coach of the Year. This was Flick-Williams’ first Coach of the Year award since 2013, when she led the Vikings to their last GNAC title.
Western led all GNAC schools with five all-league selections. Senior opposite Joellee Buckner, junior setter Brette Boesel and junior middle blocker Michaela Hall all earned first-team honors with Phelps, while junior libero Aubrey Buckner was an honorable mention selection.
Although these awards are based on individual performances, Phelps credits her success on the court to her teammates.
“I would never be in that position without all of my teammates; I know that I was very honored to have been given that [award],” Phelps said. “I need to give a lot of credit to my teammates and my coaches because that would have never happened without them.”
Hall said Phelps’ relentless work ethic catapulted her to success.
“She gives on the court and off the court, and she’s totally deserving,” Hall said. “She works so hard in practice and I think everyone feeds off of that.”
Boesel reiterated the same notion about Phelps.
“It’s cool to get individual awards like that but, ultimately, it is a testament to our entire team, ” Boesel said. “Our motto is we are a galaxy and not just one star.”
It was a first-time selection for Hall to the all-conference team. She said it was not an easy feat.
“I was surprised,” Hall said. “I definitely put in a lot of hard work to get where I am. It’s a fantastic class that I came in with and we all work hard,”
Flick-Williams has led Western volleyball for 18 years and is the most successful coach in school history.
“[Flick-Williams is] our coach but, on top of that, she’s so much more to us,” Phelps said. “She’s our counselor. She’s like our second mother. She cares so deeply about us, personally, and that makes us want to play hard for her every single day,” Phelps said.
The praise for Flick-Williams resonates throughout her whole team.
“She is the best coach I’ve ever had and I think we can all say we are truly blessed to be apart of this team,” Boesel said. “A lot of us chose to come to Western because of the coaching.”
The Vikings spent last week battling teams in Riverside, California for the NCAA West Regional title. On Thursday, Nov. 30, Western beat Alaska Anchorage University , 3-1, and Friday, Dec. 1, they took down Northwest Nazarene, 3-1. Saturday, Western’s great playoff run came to a close, where they lost to California State, San Bernardino in the West Regional Final.