Ali Bastianelli, Nootsara Tomkom

Volleyball Season 3: Movers of Week 3

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: Jade Hewitt Media
Savanna Collins
Oct 26, 2023

Olivia Rodrigo asked, “Do you get déjà vu from Week 2?” Or… something like that.

Leah Edmond, Morgan Hentz, Alli Linnehan, and Sydney Hilley all return as captains this week just like earlier in the season. As Championship Weekend approaches, take a deep dive into the leaderboard and explore who might be the 2024 champ.

Why Morgan Hentz just keeps on winning

Morgan Hentz has yet to lose a match this season – she’s 9-0 overall and 6-0 as a captain. Her teammates rave about her clear communication and detail-oriented approach to every aspect of being a captain but is there something that remains true between all her teams? It turns out that it’s not necessarily what they do right but instead what they rarely do wrong.

Team Hentz doesn’t make mistakes. In six matches, her two teams have averaged just 8.5 attack errors a match. Twice they’ve only committed six in an entire match – the lowest of any AU team ever. Their opponents on the other hand have an average of 16.3 attack errors when facing Team Hentz.

This also ties into their hitting efficiency. Of all the Team Hentz matches, the average hitting efficiency is .340. When comparing that efficiency amongst all three AU Volleyball seasons her teams rank at the top for the category. The same goes for serve receive: her teams have averaged only 2.3 receiving errors per match.

Overall, Team Hentz is not in the business of giving away free points by making mistakes.

Staying Golden: Leah Edmond

For the third week in a row, Leah Edmond will lead the gold team.

She didn’t have a single error in serve receive this week and upped her digs per match with 10 or more in every match during Week Three. She’s consistently earning more and more stat points with her highest yet this season earning 537 – the most of any athlete this week.

Is there anyone who can catch her on the leaderboard? It would be a tough feat. Edmond’s performances don’t drop off – she averages over 15 kills per match and has yet to have an off night. That translates to MVP points; she’s currently tied for second in the league in that point category.

Hentz is 197 points behind Edmond in second place but has an uphill battle to pass her as a libero despite her winning record. Edmond’s ability to dominate the stat point category makes her tough to surpass in the rankings.

The Dark Horse: Betty de la Cruz

The real dark horse to have an eye on is Betty de la Cruz. She missed matches this past week and will miss Friday’s match due to being recalled to the Dominican National Team to compete in the Pan American Games.

Even still, she’s only 620 points out of first place. For De La Cruz, that’s ground she can easily make up with two weeks of the season left. De La Cruz earns anywhere from 100 to 200 stat points a match plus she’s often voted MVP (it may be surprising to hear she still leads the league in MVP points with 220 total).

Just because she hasn’t been on the court recently and is fifth on the leaderboard doesn’t mean De La Cruz is out of this race to be a back-to-back champion.

Mover of the Week: Ali Bastianelli

Making a 16-spot jump as the Mover of Week Three is middle blocker Ali Bastianelli.

She’s up from 35th to 19th on the leaderboard after three stellar outings. She had 15 kills this week along with 10 blocks and 10 block assists that contributed to the highest stat point week of her AU career. Bastianelli made moves without MVP points; her shift up the board came from her 272 stat points and 500 win points on Team Hentz.

Nootsara Tomkom was right behind her moving up the leaderboard 15 spots, another significant jump as she entered the Top 15. Nootsara had a season-best 96 assists on Team Hentz and was voted MVP 1 and MVP 2 in matches during Week Three.

Player to Watch: Brooke Nuneviller

Outside hitter Brooke Nuneviller has been on the Player to Watch list before and is back again as some similar stars seem to align for her in Week Four. It might feel as though Nuneviller has been quietly great all season long. For example, she’s the second-highest stat point earner in the league. On 271 attack attempts she’s only made 20 errors. 

Heading into this week, Nuneviller is on a team that is not only familiar but allows her to shine. She’s back on Team Hentz just like in Week Two of the season.

Nuneviller logged 381 stat points that week and is coming off of another hot streak earning 403 in Week Three. She’s also playing opposite Betty De La Cruz in the outside hitter position, which seemed to give Nuneviller the freedom to play with style and craft instead of the pressure to be a dominant and hard-hitting OH1. It’s not that Nuneviller can’t handle the role, but when those responsibilities are on De La Cruz, it releases her to also play stellar defense that benefits the offense and team overall.

Week 4 Schedule

Tune in on Friday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT on ESPN+ as Week Four begins with Team Linnehan against Team Hentz., followed by Team Edmond taking on Team Hilley.

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

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