Northern Iowa middle blocker Piper Thomas garnered Missouri Valley Offensive Player of the Week honors, while Illinois State defensive specialist Courtney Pence and setter Stef Jankiewicz pulled in Defensive and Freshman of the Week accolades.
Thomas pounded down 5.14 kills per set, while hitting at a .354 clip in road wins over Valparaiso and Loyola (Chicago). For starters, the junior notched a career-best and team-high 23 kills, while hitting .373 and adding three stuffs against the Crusaders. Against Loyola, the Jesup, Iowa, native chipped in a team-leading 13 kills and match-high four blocks. This is Thomas’ second weekly honor, following August 28 accolades.
Pence average 7.38 digs per set against Missouri State and Southern Illinois. The junior pulled up a match-high 36 digs and added six assists in a five-set loss to Missouri State, then followed that up with 23 digs, four aces and three assists against SIU. The Springfield, Illinois, native ranks second nationally in digs (356) and digs per set (6.36), while leading the MVC in both categories.
Jankiewiecz dished out 11.12 assists per set and chipped in 3.62 digs per set for the Redbirds. Against Missouri State, the rookie notched a 55-assist, 21-dig double-double. The Farmington Hills, Michigan, native added 34 assists, eight digs and two kills against Southern Illinois. The honor is the second of the season for Jankiewiecz, who also was named Freshman of the Week on Sept. 11.
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