COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL - Whitman's Davis selected regional Freshman of the Year

Jillian Davis is the first Whitman volleyball player to be selected for the award.

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WALLA WALLA - Jillian Davis, a first-year outside hitter on the Whitman volleyball team, has been named NCAA Division III West Region Freshman of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).

The AVCA also selected Davis as the only first-year player on its All-West Region Team.

In addition, Davis received Honorable Mention recognition on the AVCA's NCAA Division III All-America team.

"I'm thrilled for Jillian, our volleyball program and Whitman athletics in general that she has been recognized at the regional and national levels," Whitman coach Carolyn Papineau said.

Davis came to Whitman after having enjoyed much success at Coronado High School in El Paso, Texas, and in the highly competitive ranks of Texas junior volleyball.

"Jillian has played at a very high level for some time," Papineau said. "That past experience, along with her athleticism, is what made her an impact player in her first season with us."

Davis is the first Whitman player to receive the AVCA's award as the best freshman in the region. The AVCA has been giving the annual award since 1999.

At 5-feet, 9-inches, Davis turned heads in the Northwest Conference this fall with a powerful swing that generated 378 kills, which led the league by a wide margin. Her kills-per-game average (3.60) ranked her second in that statistical category.

"Jillian's arm is powerful and quick, and she has the ability to attack multiple areas of the court," Papineau said. "This is one part of her game that will keep getting better and better -- the range at which she can attack defenses at this level.

"One of the biggest adjustments she's had to make is elevating her game against taller, more experienced blockers and better defenders. It's a work in progress, but as she gains more experience in our program and continues to train at a high level, I believe she will develop into the type of player who can help lead us to a conference championship."

The versatile Davis also delivered 28 service aces (the fifth-highest total in the NWC) and contributed on the defensive side with 387 digs. She was No. 8 in the conference in digs per game at 3.67.

"Jillian has great court vision and a very high volleyball IQ," Papineau said. "Combined, these qualities make her a top definder in addition to her attacking game. She rarely came off the floor this season as a first-year player.

"Even when one part of her game was not going well she was able to help the team in some other aspect of the game, whether it was serving, on defense or as a primary passer."

Davis reached double-digit numbers in both kills and digs in 17 of her 26 matches this season.

She fell short of three other double-doubles by one kill or one dig, and she surpassed the 20-kill plateau in six matches, a number that led the NWC.

Davis played two of her best matches this fall in a season series split with Linfield.

After combining 20 kills with 21 digs in a four-game loss at Linfield in early October, she powered Whitman to a 3-2 victory over the Wildcats in late October with 21 kills and 23 digs.

One night after the Linfield victory, Davis led Whitman to a 3-2 victory over Pacific with 17 kills, 19 digs and three service aces.

Based on her performance in the back-to-back matches against Linfield and Pacific, Davis was named NWC Volleyball's Student-Athlete of the Week.

At season's end, Davis was the only first-year player named to the All-NWC First Team.

Davis was a four-year captain at Coronado High School in El Paso. She earned all-district and all-city "outstanding hitter" honors as a senior while helping her T-Birds win district, bi-district and area championships.

Her junior club team rose at one point to No. 5 in the Texas state rankings.

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