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Locally: Basketball, volleyball, baseball honors bestowed among local athletes

St. George’s alum Dexter Sienko, shown in 2014 State 1B semifinal game, has gone on to collect honors at Regis University in Denver. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
St. George’s alum Dexter Sienko, shown in 2014 State 1B semifinal game, has gone on to collect honors at Regis University in Denver. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Taylor Mims and Alexis Dirige of Washington State have been selected to the 12-player U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Volleyball Team-Europe Tour that will compete in the 14th annual European Global Challenge July 10-13 in Pula, Croatia.

One of three teams within the U.S. Collegiate National Team program, they will train and compete in Europe from July 4-15, highlighted by the Global Challenge.

Mims, a 6-foot-3 junior opposite hitter from Billings, Montana, was a member of the 2017 CNT-Europe team that won gold at the 13th Global Challenge and was named to the all-tournament team.

She was a 2017 All-Pac-12 first-team selection after being honorable mention in 2016 as a middle blocker. She led the Cougars with 4.17 kills and 4.75 points per set, both sixth in Pac-12, in 2017. Her 599 points was 12th-best in the NCAA.

Dirige, a 5-2 sophomore libero from San Francisco, led the Cougars with 4.65 digs per set, third in the Pac-12. Her 569 digs is the WSU single-season record.

WSU coach Jen Greeny and Cougars Casey Schoenlein and McKenna Woodford were on the 2016 CNT-Europe team that was the first team of U.S. collegians to win the Global Challenge.

College scene

Dexter Sienko of Spokane, the 2014 State 2B Player of the Year at St. George’s, capped a stellar four-year career at Regis University in Denver by being named to the Division II Conference Commissioner’s Association (D2CCA) men’s basketball All-South Central Region second team.

The honor comes after the 6-foot-6 senior was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year after he led the league with 64 blocked shots, averaging 1.9 per game, ranking 16th and 7th, respectively, in the nation. He was three times defensive player of the week.

The Rangers’ third-leading scorer at 14.7 points per game had a conference-best 58.1 shooting percentage and was named first-team All-RMAC for a second straight year. He was also first-team all-academic for three years.

Sienko, who helped lead St. George’s to a State 2B championship as a junior and runner-up finish as a senior, was instrumental in Regis’ steady improvement his four years.

This season the Rangers went 27-6, the second most wins in school history, finished second in the RMAC and won the conference tournament before 22nd-ranked Regis was eliminated in the second round of the South Central Regional in four overtimes. Sienko had 26 points and team-highs of 12 rebounds and eight assists.

Sienko finished in the top 10 in several Regis statistical categories, including being the school’s all-time shot blocker (156), its third all-time highest scorer (1,629 points) and No. 1 in games started (112 of the 116 in which he played).

Bogdan Bliznyuk, the Eastern Washington and Big Sky Conference career basketball scoring leader, is one of three Big Sky players named to the 2017-18 Lou Henson All-America Team honoring the nation’s top mid-major players.

He is joined by Andre Spight of Northern Colorado, the Big Sky scoring champion who ranks 11th in the country, and Jerrick Harding from Weber State, No. 2 in the Sky and 15th in nation in scoring.

Also honored is Jock Landale from Saint Maries, the WCC Player of the Year.

The Lou Henson National Player of the Year will be announced Monday in San Antonio, site of the NCAA Division I Final Four.

Bliznyuk, an Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention and the Big Sky’s Most Valuable Player, was the only player in the league to rank in the top five in points (22.2), rebounds (7.6) and assists (4.8) during conference play. He, Spight and Harding were unanimous All-Big Sky first-team selections.

Jeremy Yelland, a Hawaii freshman from Central Valley, collected his first Division I baseball pitching victory last Sunday with 4 1/3, one-hit innings of relief in the Warriors’ 8-6 win over Seton Hall.

Yelland, a left-hander who was a two-time All-Greater Spokane League selection and 2017 All-State 4A, struck out 10 of the 15 batters he faced in his sixth game in relief. He has a 2.19 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings.

• Idaho junior Maria Tavares, who helped the Vandals record two wins by collecting two singles and one doubles victory, was named the Big Sky Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Week for a second straight week.

Tavares, who has an 8-4 singles record playing primarily at No. 2, moved up to No. 1 for the first time this season and won against Montana State, where she also paired with Marianna Petrei for a win at No. 1 doubles. She returned to No. 2 singles in Idaho’s 4-1 win over Boise State.

Madelyn Carlson, a Whitworth freshman, was named Northwest Conference Softball Pitcher of the Week for the third time this season after she tossed two shutouts in the Pirates’ snow-shortened weekend sweep of Willamette. She allowed just five hits over 10 innings and struck out seven.

Katie Emerson, an Eastern Oregon junior from Almira, was the Cascade Collegiate Conference Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week after she won 400m hurdles at the NNU Open to qualify for the CCC Championships.

The former Almira/Coulee-Hartline standout ranks 10th in the NAIA this season, her time just .64 seconds shy of the ‘B’ qualifying mark.

•Whitworth senior Patrick Wilber collected two NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving All-America honorable mention awards for a 16th-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke, his final collegiate race, and a 15th in the 100 back during the national championship last weekend.

• Washington State women’s rowing is ranked 13th in the first USRowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Division I poll of the 2017-18 season, the 98th consecutive week the Cougars have been in the top 20.

WSU, ranked since June 11, 2008, and in the top 15 for 30 consecutive weeks, is among five of the seven Pac-12 schools that have rowing to be ranked. The poll is led by defending national champion Washington at No. 1 and California at No. 2.

• After advancing to the NCAA Championship for the fourth time in five seasons in 2017, Gonzaga has been selected to repeat as West Coast Conference women’s rowing champion in a preseason poll of the league’s seven coaches.

The Bulldogs, among schools receiving votes in the national poll, placed four on the All-WCC preseason rowing team – senior Isabelle Belzil, juniors Lauren English and Olivia Lada and sophomore Alexa Jadallah.

• For a 32nd-consecutive quarter, since fall 2007, Eastern Washington’s 299 student-athletes posted at least a 3.0 grade-point average, with record collective marks of 3.47 for winter term and 3.48 accumulative for the 2017-18 school year.

Twenty-nine had perfect 4.0 GPAs with 116 between 3.5 and 3.99 and 72 percent registering at least a 3.0. The old record was 3.44 from winter quarter a year ago. The 3.48 equals the mark for the first two quarters last school year.

Women’s golf had the top team mark, a 3.78, with women’s cross country and women’s tennis both at 3.71.


With Ty Smith receiving two awards, eight players were recognized by the Spokane Chiefs in a ceremony prior to their regular-season finale against the Tri-City Americans on March 16.

Smith received the John “Hitman” Hern Defenseman of the Year award and was the first Chief to be named Scholastic Player of the Year a second straight year. He has maintained an 88 percent average in the classroom in his academic core subjects of English, math and science.

Kailer Yamamoto was named Player of the Year despite playing in only 40 of the 72 regular-season games while also playing in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, who made him their first-round draft selection, and in the World Junior Championships, where he helped the U.S. capture the bronze medal.

Other awards went to: Eli Zummack, Ken Rabel Most Sportsmanlike Player for a second straight year; Tyson Helgesen, Players’ Player; Filip Kral, Rookie of the Year; Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Humanitarian of the Year; Ethan McIndoe and Jeff Faith, Unsung Heroes.

Letters of intent

Lewis-Clark State track & field and cross country – Rylee Brown, Coeur d’Alene, All-North Idaho District 1 5A cross country, 3-time state qualifier; Miriam Ames, Lewiston, 3-time state 5-A cross country qualifier; Mason Best, Clarkston, multiple Washington State 2A qualifier; Matt Caldwell, Post Falls, middle distances.


Two of the nine members of the Spokane Junior Rifle Club who competed in the 2018 Washington State Junior Indoor Smallbore Rifle Championships last month had top-eight finishes.

Cassidy Wilson, 17, who is home schooled, shot 1,127 out of a possible 1,200 in the three-position event to place seventh. Mason Maystrovich, 17, Northwest Christian, shot 1,115 and was eighth. The state champion in the 55-competitor field shot 1,154.

Wilson and Maystrovich led the SJRC Gold team that placed fifth out of nine teams with a 4,357. Zach Pearsall, 16, home school, shot 1,077 and Ben Tafoya, 15, Gonzaga Prep, shot 1,038. They were 20th and28th, respectively, individually. The state team champion shot 4,545 out of a possible 4,800.

The NRA-sanctioned event was shot at the Spokane Rifle Club and in Olympia with results combined to get the statewide results.

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