Newman, Darnold Headline First Volleyball Weekly Awards Winners
NEWPORT NEWS, Va.—The Atlantic 10 Conference named George Washington senior Kelsey Newman and Rhode Island junior Franki Darnold its volleyball Co-Players of the Week Tuesday. In addition, GW sophomore Chidima Osuchukwu was named Defensive Player of the Week and Saint Louis freshman Nenye Okoro earned Rookie of the Week honors. The awards, the first of the year, follow the opening weekend of play.
Newman totaled 39 kills with a .319 hitting percentage and a pair of double-doubles to lead GW to a 3-0 record without surrendering a set. An outside hitter from Charlotte, N.C., she was named to the All-Tournament Team at the George Washington Invitational, and added 39 digs, four blocks to her impressive performances. She opened her senior season with a double-double of 13 kills with just one error and 16 digs against Arkansas State. In the Colonials’ sweep of Auburn, Newman posted nine kills and again had just one error. She concluded her weekend with her second double-double with 17 kills and 17 digs against North Dakota. She swung .308 in the match.
Darnold was named MVP of the UD (Delaware) Courtyard by Marriott Invitational after leading Rhode Island with 52 kills (4.73 per set), including a career-high 28 in URI's win over Albany. She also had 15 digs in the win over the Great Danes for her first double-double of the season. In the season opener versus Loyola (Ill.), she registered 13 kills and against the host Blue Hens Darnold had 11 kills. A native of San Claemente, Calif., the outside hitter hit .325 for the week, hitting over .320 in each of the Rams weekend matches.
Defensive stalwart Osuchukwu was named the Most Valuable Player at the George Washington Invitational after posting 14.0 total blocks (1.52/set, five solo, nine assists) as GW swept Arkansas State, Auburn and North Dakota to open the 2014 season. A middle blocker from Virginia Beach, Va., she posted five blocks (two solo, three assists) and four digs in GW's season-opening win over Arkansas State. In the win over Auburn, Osuchukwu posted four blocks (two solo, two assists) to lead the Colonials past the Tigers. She completed the weekend with five blocks (one solo, four assists), versus North Dakota. In addition, she added 36 kills and a .342 attack percentage in the three matches.
Okoro started in all four matches in her first weekend of collegiate volleyball and finished the weekend with a strong all-around performance. The outside hitter from Houston, Texas, excelled at the net, tallying 2.53 kills per set, including 14 versus Northern Iowa and 11 against Southeast Missouri State. Her 14-kill, 11-dig performance against UNI marked the first double-double of her collegiate career. Okoro averaged .67 blocks per set, 2.47 digs per set and had also tallied two aces.