Story written and posted by Anthony Perry, Rivier University Sports Information Director
WINTHROP, MASS. – The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) unveiled their 2019 women's volleyball all-conference teams earlier this afternoon and four Rivier University student-athletes have been honored.
Seniors Taylor Dunster (Sutton, Mass.) and Jess Whyte (Plymouth, Mass.) were tabbed as First Team honorees with sophomores Avery Pollard (Ballston Lake, N.Y.) and Sydney Racevicius (Woodbury, Conn.) being placed on the All-Conference second and third teams, respectively. On the season, the Raiders finished with an overall record of 24-8 and a 10-2 mark against the conference. Entering the GNAC Tournament as the overall 3rd seed, the Women's Volleyball team powered their way through #6 Norwich (3-0 win) and overcame the odds in a thrilling five set win at second-seeded Simmons before ultimately falling in the GNAC Championship Game to top-seeded Johnson & Wales (3-0).
Dunster was the heartbeat of the Raiders this past season. She finishes her career with a standout senior campaign in which she played in 106 sets over 32 matches; totaling 312 kills and a 2.94 kills per set average. The veteran outside hitter also led the team with 358 digs – a 3.38 digs per set average – and totaled 30 blocks on the year. Dunster was named the GNAC Player of the Week back on September 23rd for her impressive week in which she guided the Raiders to three wins. She recorded her season game-high of 16 kills twice (9/18 vs Eastern Nazarene, 10/17 vs Colby-Sawyer) and registered her 1,000th career dig in the team's 3-0 win at Regis. This is the third consecutive year that Dunster has been named to the All-Conference teams and she was also selected to the All-Conference First Team a year ago (2017 she was named to the All-Conference Second Team).
Whyte was just as electric in her final go around compiling 303 kills and a .357 hitting percentage over the course of her 103 sets played. She averaged 2.94 kills per set which was tied with Dunster for second best on the team. Whyte also controlled the net defensively with a team-high of 64 total blocks, 15 of which were block solos. She was named the GNAC Player of the Week on October 21st as the Raiders enjoyed another three win week. Whyte recorded just three errors in 36 attempts on her way to a .667 hitting percentage for the week in conference wins over Colby-Sawyer, Lasell and Norwich. Her best game of the year came in the team's 3-0 win at the University of Saint Joseph in which she amassed a .421 hitting percentage on 11 kills and five total blocks. She registered her season game-high of 18 kills in the September 26th 3-1 win over Southern Maine. This is the first time that Whyte has been named to the GNAC All-Conference team in her career.
Pollard makes her first appearance to the GNAC All-Conference team as a second team selection, as voted upon by the conference's coaches. The sophomore setter directed the Raider offense to the second highest hitting percentage in the conference (.203) behind her 1,088 assists. She averaged 10.07 assists per set – the highest in the conference – while controlling the game with a team-high 65 service aces. Pollard also added 73 kills, 241 digs and 47 total blocks over her 108 set season. She eclipsed the 40+ assist mark in six of her 33 matches while registered a season-high 54 assists in the team's 3-2 loss to Salve Regina.
Racevicius returns the GNAC All-Conference team as a member of the 3rd team in 2019 after being tabbed a 2nd team member in her rookie season. The second year outside hitter totaled 293 kills and a team-high 2.99 kills per set average. She appeared in 98 sets played over 30 matches collecting 303 digs and hammering down 46 service aces. Her 3.09 digs per set average ranks second on the team and she also contributed with 14 total blocks. Racevicius registered her season-high of 22 kills in the team's five set loss to Salve Regina on October 12th while also recording a .354 hitting percentage and 15 digs. On the year she accumulated eight games in which she had 10+ kills and digs and scooped up her season high of 17 digs twice – September 17th vs Keene State & September 26th vs Southern Maine.
Also receiving GNAC recognition is junior Joy Maswowse (Ashland, Mass.) who was named as the Rivier representative on the GNAC All-Sportsmanship Team.