Briefs: Vanguard vies in NAIA event

The Vanguard University women's basketball team begins play in the NAIA Tournament on Wednesday at the Frankfort Convention Center in Frankfort, Ky.

The Lions (23-6), ranked No. 13 in the final NAIA poll, are making their 11th straight appearance in the national tournament, the school's 14th trip overall.

Vanguard will face Georgetown of Kentucky (21-9) in the first round on Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. The Tigers were ranked No. 19 in the final national poll.

Coach Russ Davis' Lions, who won the NAIA crown in 2008, are led by All-Golden State Athletic Conference performers Esther Timmermans and Paige Halberg.

Timmermans, a 6-foot-1 junior post, is averaging 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, both tops on the team. Halberg, a 5-10 fifth-year senior guard who was a freshman starter on the 2008 title team, is averaging 11.9 points per contest.

Vanguard, which lost last season in the first round to end a string of eight straight first-round victories, is hoping to advance to Friday's second round, when it would likely face Freed-Hardeman of Tennessee. Freed-Hardeman (28-5) is the No. 3 overall seed and was ranked No. 3 in the final national poll.

Oklahoma City (30-1) is the No. 1 seed, Union of Tennessee (31-2) is the No. 2 seed and GSAC champion Westmont (29-3) is the No. 4 seed.

The quarterfinals are Saturday. The semifinals are Monday and the final is Tuesday.

— From staff reports

Clark recognized

UC Irvine senior Carson Clark has been named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Week in men's volleyball after leading the Anteaters to a pair of wins last week, including a victory over then-No. 1-ranked UCLA.

Clark recorded a match-high 21 kills and hit .447 as the then-No. 2-ranked Anteaters handed top-ranked UCLA its first home loss. The opposite also fired four aces and had two block assists and five digs against the Bruins.

Clark started the week with eight kills and four aces in a sweep at then-No. 12-ranked UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday.

For the week, Clark averaged 3.6 kills, one ace and 4.8 points per set.

UCI (16-3, 12-3 in the MPSF) is ranked the No. 1 in the national poll released Monday. It will travel to No. 13 Cal State Northridge Wednesday and No. 9 Long Beach State on Saturday.

— From staff reports

McNealy honored

UC Irvine sophomore Chris McNealy was named to the 2012 All-Big West Conference Tournament team in men's basketball.

The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 17.5 points in two tournament games, hitting six of 13 three-point attempts and adding seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

McNealy scored a career-high 24 points in UCI's 65-59, quarterfinal victory over second-seeded Cal State Fullerton Thursday.

He had 11 points, five rebounds and four assists in Friday's 68-57 semifinal loss to eventual tourney champion Long Beach State.

McNealy averaged 10.2 points and 4.6 rebounds this season, hitting 45 three-pointers and adding 98 assists and 27 steals.

He is UCI's first All-Big West Tournament selection since Darren Fells in 2008.

— From staff reports

Two 'Eaters lauded

Senior baseball infielder D.J. Crumlich and senior women's soccer player Lexi Kopf were honored last week as UC Irvine 2011-12 Big West Male and Female Scholar-Athletes of the Year.

Crumlich is a business economics major and a shortstop, who earned second-team All-Big West honors in 2011. Crumlich, a four-year starer, also earned NCAA Regional All-Tournament honors in 2011 after helping the Anteaters best three conference champions at the Los Angeles Regional at UCLA.

A member of the dean's honor list, he has a dream of becoming a professional baseball player and later opening up his own business. In the community, Crumlich coaches an 11-year old baseball team and volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach.

Kopf, a forward, finished her four-year career ninth on the school's career list in goals (20) and 11th in points (44). She netted 11 goals in 2011. She earned first-team all-conference recognition last fall.

Kopf impressed in the classroom as well as she earned dean's honor list and Big West Fall All-Academic Team kudos. In the community, she volunteers at the Children's Hospital of Orange County and is an undergraduate research student within the UCI Medical Center. She is pursuing medical school to become a surgeon.

The Big West annually honors a male and female Scholar-Athlete of the Year from each of the member institutions.

— From staff reports

'Eaters' Smith shines

UC Irvine junior Kristina Smith was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week in women's tennis for the second time in the last three weeks last week.

Smith opened Big West play by winning two doubles matches with partner Franziska Goettsching. The duo earned triumphs over UC Santa Barbara on March 3 and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on March 4.

She also swept her singles sets in the Anteaters' 4-3 win over the Gauchos and the team's 5-2 handling of the Mustangs.

— From staff reports

Shaeffer in mix

UC Irvine senior Ronnie Shaeffer is one of 43 catchers to be selected to the Johnny Bench Award initial watch list.

Shaeffer, a 2011 American Baseball Coaches Assn. Gold Glove winner, was one of the top defensive catchers in the country last season. A first-team All-Big West choice, Shaeffer held the opposition to a 43% success rate in steals.

He was also voted the Los Angeles Regional's Most Outstanding Player after leading UCI to victory with a .600 batting average in three regional games. He delivered the walk-off hit in the regional-clinching win over UCLA.

Heading into last weekend's nonconference series with BYU, Shaeffer had been holding opposing teams to a .467 average on stolen-base attempts. He broke his little finger on his right, throwing hand in the first game against BYU on Thursday and is expected to miss two to three weeks.

The award honors the nation's top Division I catcher. Semifinalists will be announced May 16 with the finalists unveiled June 4. The award will be presented in Wichita, Kansas on June 28.

— From staff reports

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