By BRIAN RAMSEY | OBU Sports Network
SHAWNEE, Okla. — On the eve of the 2022 Great American Conference Volleyball Championship Tournament, the league has announced its annual all-conference teams and award winners with nine student-athletes from Ouachita Baptist University making the list.
Highlighting Ouachita’s selections is Riley Braziel, who was voted as the league’s freshman of the year and selected to the All-GAC second team. The Decatur, Texas native has arguably been Ouachita’s best all-around player this season, leading the team in kills (279, 2.94 per set), while ranking second in service aces (32) and digs (273 total, 2.87 per set). The two-time GAC offensive player of the week this year ranks in the top 10 of the GAC in kills and points (3.45 per set) heading into this week’s conference tournament.
Freshman Courtney Hanson and graduate student Lexie Castillow are also in the mix for the most valuable player for the Tigers this season. Both join Braziel on the All-GAC second team. Castillow is also one of six Tigers this season to earn the GAC’s distinguished scholar athlete award, presented to student-athletes participating in the conference championship tournament that have completed at least 70 college credit hours and carry at least a 3.7 cumulative GPA.
Hanson leads the Tigers and ranks third in the GAC in assists with 992 for an average of 10.23 per set. The Arlington, Texas native earned GAC setter of the week honors twice in her rookie campaign. She has posted two matches this season with at least 50 assists, 10 matches with at least 40, and 19 matches with at least 30.
Castillow has now earned All-GAC honors in all four seasons of her Tiger career, twice making the second team. Her 534 digs so far this season gives her 1,984 for her Tiger career, moving the Greenwood, Arkansas native into third place all-time at Ouachita in the category. This season, Castillow is second in the GAC in digs with an average of 5.56 per set. She has posted 11 matches this season with at least 20 digs and two matches with at least 30.
Rounding out Ouachita’s All-GAC selections is freshman Emily Adams, who earned a spot on the league’s honorable mention team. The Arlington, Texas native has contributed to Ouachita’s success this season both offensively and defensively. She currently trails Braziel by just three for the team lead in kills (276, 2.79 per set), and ranks third on the team in blocks (54, 0.55 per set).
Joining Castillow as Ouachita’s distinguished scholar athletes this season are Kellen Church, Bethany LaTurno, Abigail Roberts, Joni Schneider, and Kayla Steinmeyer.
The GAC Championship Tournament starts on Thursday in Shawnee, Oklahoma with four opening-round matches inside FireLake Arena. Ouachita takes on East Central at 5:30 p.m. The semifinals will be played on Friday, and the championship match will be played on Saturday to determine the league’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament.