Utah’s Dani Drews is the Pac-12 Volleyball Player of the Year; Utes get four All-Pac-12 honors

Utes are 14th overall seed for NCAA Tournament, which begins April 14 in Omaha, Neb.

(Steve C. Wilson / University of Utah) Dani Drews helped lead the University of Utah past Pitt late Thursday evening in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Omaha, Neb.

Dani Drews’ dominance as an outside hitter for the University of Utah women’s volleyball team was recognized on Wednesday afternoon.

Drews, a 6-foot senior, was named Pac-12 Player of the Year, making her the first Utes volleyball player to earn the conference’s highest honor since Utah joined the league in 2011.

Drews led the 13-4 Utes in kills in all 17 matches, leading the Pac-12 in kills per set at 5.14. Drews finished the regular season with 324 kills. She registered at least 20 kills in seven matches and 30 kills in two matches.

“For Dani to earn this award during this unique season is a testament to her as an athlete and a person,” Utah coach Beth Launiere said in a statement. “She handled adversity well and continued to perform at a high level week after week. We’re proud of Dani and it is a great honor to our program to have a Pac-12 Player of the Year.”

Drews was named All-Pac-12 for the third year in a row, joined by fellow senior Kenzie Koerber, who earned the distinction for the second time. Koerber finished the regular season with 153 kills, while hitting .267. Her 26 service aces led Utah.

With the NCAA freezing the eligibility clock for fall student-athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Launiere previously told The Salt Lake Tribune that she expected Drews and Koerber, her only two seniors, to return in the fall of 2021 for a fifth season.

Utah also received two All-Pac-12 honorable-mention nods on Wednesday, junior setter Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres and junior outside hitter Madelyn Robinson.

Utah is the No. 14 overall seed for the 48-team NCAA Tournament, which will be contested entirely in Omaha, Neb. beginning April 14. As a top-16 seed, the Utes have a first-round bye and will open tournament play April 15 against the winner of a first-round match between Pitt and Long Island University.