Volleyball Season 3: Movers of Week 1

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: Sarah Smith
Savanna Collins
Oct 12, 2023

It was a purple party at the top of the leaderboard after Team Edmond went a perfect 3-0. Their three match wins paired with dropping only a single set out of nine on the week earned 500 win points for the whole squad — more than enough to secure four members from the team as captains.

League leader: Leah Edmond

Leah Edmond assembled one of the best teams in AU Volleyball history in Week 1 of the 2023 season, piecing together players with familiarity from the Exhibition Tour and collegiate connections. Not only did she captain the best team, but she backed it up with stellar personal performances to shoot to No. 1 on the leaderboard. She was voted an MVP in all three matches, ranking first overall in the category with 120 points. Her 408 stat point earnings are just one shy of Bethania de la Cruz who leads in that category.

Edmond knows what it takes to get to the top of the leaderboard; this season asks the questions if she’ll remain there until the end.

Cats by 90

University of Kentucky fans relished in the return of duo Edmond and Alli Linnehan – and their complimentary play helped propel Linnehan right to the top along with her fellow Wildcat.

She set the stage on the opening night of the season, blasting a match-high 19 kills with 12 digs for the first double-double of her AU career. Where Edmond pounded away at the ball, Linnehan could pack the power or pick apart the defense. She was voted MVP 1 for her performance on Friday night and continued to make an impact on the team, garnering 380 stat points (3rd in the league). 

Traveling the court and the leaderboard

Morgan Hentz should need a passport for how much court she travels during a match and a stamp for each dig she picks up along the way.

She’s in a category all of her own: she broke the single-match digs record with 25 on Oct. 6 and is now only the second libero to sit in the captain’s chair.

Hentz logged 20 more digs than any other athlete and also has a positive reception percentage of .680 on 31 attempts. She’s fourth in the league in stat points and also earned MVP 1 for her defensive impact on Monday.

The Trifecta of Success

For her Championship Season debut, setter Sydney Hilley sure worked the leaderboard like a veteran.

Team Edmond’s win points + sixth in stat points + two MVP honors = a quick way to captainship.

What makes Hilley an especially lethal leaderboard climber is her ability to pick up points for more than just assists. Of her 320 total stat points, 105 were for assists, 95 from digs, and 84 from blocks. On Saturday night Team Edmond broke the AU single-match block record with 18 rejections as a team. Hilley, alongside her former Badger teammate Danielle Hart, both posted five in the match. Hilley will be in purple again as a rookie captain.

Players to Watch

Because of Team Edmond’s dominant winning, the leaderboard is a little lopsided right now. Team Nootsara was the second-winningest team of the week and collected 280 win points. Team De La Cruz had 220 and Team Valentin-Anderson came away with just 80.

That being said, it would be crazy not to make Bethania De La Cruz one of your picks in Athletes Unlimited Fantasy Pick ‘Em. Despite dropping out of the top four, she leads the league in stat points and kills. She’s the first player in the rankings who wasn’t on Team Edmond and sits at seventh overall heading into Week 2. Just two spots behind her is Willow Johnson as No. 9 who proved to be the top opposite after a week of play.

Despite her team struggling in the first three matches, Natalia Valentin-Anderson is not one to count out so soon. She recorded 91 assists and is second in the league in digs behind Hentz with 40. On a winning team, she could make some serious moves up the board this week.

It could be risky to select all picks from one team, but Brooke Nuneviller is another to keep an eye on this week. She’s playing opposite De La Cruz on Team Hentz and has the potential to break out this week not only offensively but defensively as well.

Week 2 Schedule

The competition for Week Two starts on Friday, Oct.13 with a set of doubleheaders on ESPN+. Team Hentz will take on Team Linnehan at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT followed by Team Hilley vs Team Edmond at 9:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. PT.

Tune in to see who remains at the top and who climb their way up.

Savanna Collins is the Digital Media Reporter at Athletes Unlimited. You can follow her on Twitter @savannaecollins.

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