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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Volleyball trio nabs national recognition

Redshirt freshman Abby Phelps digs the ball on Saturday, Oct. 31, against Montana State Billings at Whatcom Community College Pavillion. // Photo by Daisey James

By Giovanni Roverso

The American Volleyball Coaches Association named outside hitter and Western junior Abby Phelps a first-team All-American in December. Senior opposite Joelle Buckner and junior setter Brette Boesel were selected honorable mentions.

“I’m really proud of those three, amongst others,” Western volleyball coach Diane Flick-Williams said. “Their best asset is that they would give all the credit to their teammates before they take it themselves.”

Phelps was named the 2017 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year, and she became just the fourth player in Western history to record one thousand career kills and career digs.

Phelps didn’t even know she wanted to be an outside hitter until her senior year of high school. She trained as a setter for most of her career.

“When I was going through the recruiting process, many of the schools I was looking at didn’t need a setter in 2014,” Phelps said. “So I decided to change my position rather than change my choice of schools.”

First team All-American Abby Phelps led the 2017 Great Northwest Athletic Conference with 25 double doubles (kills and digs). // Photo by Katie Webber

Phelps’ athletic abilities were apparent during recruiting, Flick-Williams said.

“[Phelps] is a very physical athlete,” Flick-Williams said. “She jumps high, she’s very quick and she’s a very passionate player.”

Phelps said volleyball has been a part of her life since she was an infant.

“The impact that [volleyball] has had on my life has been huge, because it has been there since I was a baby,” said Phelps, who was already at the gym in a baby carrier a few days after being born so her parents could coach.

“It is difficult for me to think what my life would be like without it,” Phelps said.

Phelps remembers how every day after school in Chelan she would walk to the high school where her parents coached. She joined her first club in fifth grade and has been on some sort of team every year since.

Boesel, who ranked 11th in the nation with 11.72 assists per set, said her own success has been fostered by the environment her teammates and coaches have built.

“I love the atmosphere we players and the coaches have created for us to not only play in but also live and grow in,” Boesel said.

Flick-Williams said Boesel has a great quiet calm about her that resonates with her teammates.

“I love the atmosphere we players and the coaches have created for us to not only play in but also live and grow in.”


“[When] she’s on your team, you feel really comfortable the offense is in good hands,” Flick-Williams said. “Everyone knows when they look at her that there’s a plan and that she’s got the plan.”

Buckner, who couldn’t be reached for comment, just graduated in the fall. Buckner is ranked No. 4 in career digs at Western with 1,473.

“She’s just an outstanding ball handler and defender,” Flick-Williams said. “She has length that gets to a lot of balls and she has a really good nose for the game”

Looking to the future, Phelps said she probably won’t play volleyball professionally, because of the passion she has for teaching and working with children. She hopes to be an elementary school teacher and to coach at some level.

Boesel also wants to be able to impact the lives of people or players, she said, like her coaches and the volleyball program have impacted her, by helping and challenging them to become the best version of themselves.


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