Four Iowa State volleyball players receive Big 12 awards

Jess Schaben, outside hitter, and Avery Rhodes, middle blocker, attempt to hit the volleyball back to the Baylor Bears during their game on Oct. 4 at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones lost 0-3.

Trevor Holbrook

The Big 12 released its conference volleyball awards on Monday.

Iowa State managed to have three players on the All-Big 12 First Team, while one freshman made the Big 12 All-Freshman Team. The Cyclones have the luxury of three of the four players honored having eligibility remaining after this season.

The first honors announced were the Big 12 All-Freshman Team. Iowa State middle blocker Avery Rhodes was one of the six players to receive a spot.

Rhodes shined in Iowa State’s conference matches. The Waco, Texas, native finished the regular season eighth in the Big 12 in hitting percentage (.292) and fifth in blocks per set (1.22).

After the All-Freshman Team was released, the Big 12 revealed the All-Big 12 First Team honors.

Three Cyclones made it onto the First Team: redshirt sophomore libero Hali Hillegas, junior hitter Jess Schaben and redshirt senior right side hitter Samara West. Hillegas received the Big 12 Libero of the Year.

This season marked the second time Schaben has been on the All-Big 12 First Team, while Samara West jumped from All-Big 12 Second Team to First Team this season. For Hillegas, it was her first appearance on an All-Big 12 team.

Schaben led the Cyclones in kills this season with 315. Schaben’s 200 kills paired with an average of 3.57 per set, ranked the Defiance, Iowa, native fifth in the Big 12. Schaben is also the Big 12’s most recent recipient of the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.

Alongside Schaben, West wrecked havoc on Big 12 opponents in her final collegiate season. West ranked second on the Cyclones with 272 kills.

Hillegas is the ninth Cyclone in the last 10 years to be the Big 12 Libero of the Year. Hillegas had the most Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week Awards with four. The redshirt sophomore is No. 15 in the nation for digs per set, averaging 5.61.

Hillegas placed herself atop the Big 12 dig leaderboard, snagging the most digs (307) and the highest average of digs per set. The top performance from Hillegas came at Texas Tech on Sept. 29, where the libero accounted for 34 digs.

Hillegas is a strong server for Iowa State, chipping in 17 aces in conference play, tying for third in the Big 12. In Iowa State’s match against Texas on Nov. 11, Hillegas contributed six aces against a tough Longhorn team.