Colorado volleyball players Naghede Abu, Gabby Simpson and Alexa Smith have been named to the All-Pac-12 honorable mention team for their performances during the 2016 season.
This is the first honor for Abu and Smith, while it is the second straight year Simpson has been selected to the honorable mention squad.
Abu, a 6-foot-4 middle blocker from Riverside, Calif., had a breakout sophomore season. She was sixth in the Pac-12 in blocks per set (1.26), which was also 49th in the NCAA. Abu averaged 1.69 kills per set while attacking at the 10th best mark in the Pac-12 (.323). In just the second match of the season, she tied a CU record with 15 blocks against Portland State. The 15 blocks (in a single match) was tied for second in the NCAA this season and led the Pac-12. Abu set CU’s rally-scoring era single season blocks record with 153, surpassing the former record by two (151).
During the season, Abu was named the CU Athlete of the Week twice, was selected to the Omni Invitational All-Tournament Team and was honored as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after helping the Buffs upset then-No. 13 Penn State and then-No. 17 Illinois at the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge with 1.20 blocks per set. Abu played in all 121 sets for CU and started in all 30 matches.
Simpson, a 6-3 setter and right side hitter from Colorado Springs, had an excellent junior season despite missing the start and end of the season due to injury. She was second on the team in kills per set (2.47) and assists (5.48) and was fourth in digs (2.38). During the season, Simpson set a pair of CU triple-double records. She recorded four straight triple-doubles to start the Pac-12 season, which broke the former record of two. Simpson tallied a total of seven triple-doubles during the season, breaking the previous CU record of six. Her seven triple-doubles led the Pac-12 and ranked fourth in the NCAA.
A Pac-12 Preseason Team selection, Simpson was named the CU Athlete of the Week on Sept. 27 after recording CU’s first-ever 20-20 double-double in kills and assists. The 20-20 double-double was also part of a triple-double (22 kills, 25 assists and 10 digs). Simpson started in every match she played (22) during the year and saw time in 87 sets.
Smith, a 6-1 outside hitter from Colorado Springs, had an outstanding sophomore season for the Buffs. She led the team with 3.17 kills per set and her 380 total kills ranked eighth in the Pac-12. She was set 1,075 times this season, which was also eighth in the league. Smith’s 429.5 points (3.58 points per set) was ninth in the Pac-12. Defensively she was second on the team with 2.61 digs per set.
Colorado finished the 2016 season with a 14-16 record and was ninth in the Pac-12 (6-14). The Buffs upset No. 17 Utah (3-2) on the road in their final match of the season on Nov. 25.