By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Defensive dominance and punting precision: Wildcats’ success stories

Emma Daoud-Hebert jumping for joy on media day. (Jacob Thompson)
Dan Stewart in a punting stance on media day.


Emma Daoud-Hebert’s journey to success in the realm of collegiate athletics goes beyond individual accolades. As the latest recipient of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week award, she unveils her unwavering dedication to improvement and the crucial role her team plays in her achievements.

As she stands out as one of the nation’s best middle blockers, her story unveils the grit and teamwork behind her rise in the sport.

“I was super proud of my team,” Daoud-Hebert said about her reaction to being named GNAC Defensive Player of the Week. “I mean, honestly, we have such a good defense on our team. It makes it easy. I honestly [am so] grateful for the support of my team.”

According to, the volleyball team is currently ranked fifth in the nation for blocks per frame at 2.63. Securing the second spot in the individual category with 1.48 blocks per frame. Daoud-Hebert, a junior middle blocker, has remained a formidable presence at the net this year. She has built on her previous Division II leadership in blocks per set in 2022. 

“Working towards getting 1% better every day, and never being satisfied with how I’m playing,” Daoud-Hebert said when discussing her success. “I always feel that there’s something more I can do, and Mario and my team are constantly pushing me.”

Daoud-Hebert expressed repeated gratitude towards Volleyball Head Coach, Mario Andaya, for his instrumental role in her success. Andaya had a particularly noteworthy influence evident in the days preceding her award.

“The week before in practice, Mario had just put a really big emphasis on getting our eye work right and just being a really big presence at the net, so I think I just kind of went into the games that week with a lot of determination,” Daoud-Hebert said.

When discussing standout moments from this season, Daoud-Hebert highlighted a major play during the preseason. She described a pivotal moment against Cal State University LA when she successfully executed a critical block. She closed out the fourth set against one of their outside hitters, an experience she found to be both unforgettable and significant.

In anticipation of the most recent game during CWU’s Homecoming and Family weekend, Daoud-Hebert and the team harbored high hopes after their defeat against Seattle Pacific University last Thursday. Daoud-Hebert provided her perspective in the days leading up to the match, “I think everyone’s super excited … We’re looking to bounce right back [and] bring it tomorrow, every game is an opportunity for something new.”

The Wildcats’ confidence was well-placed, evident in their commanding 3-0 victory, with Daoud-Hebert tallying 9 kills and 1 block during the game.


In the world of college football, standout performances often go beyond touchdowns and tackles. Meet redshirt sophomore Dan Stewart, the recently crowned Lone Star Conference (LSC) Special Teams Player of the Week. Stewart’s precision punts have become a viable weapon for the Wildcats.

His journey to this recognition reveals not only personal excellence, but also the cohesive energy of the punt team as a whole.

“It felt great,” Stewart expressed about receiving the award. “I was really excited to see our punt team get credit for how well we’ve been playing recently. Hopefully, it’s not the last one we get.” 

When discussing how Stewart secured this award, he was quick to attribute it to his team, “I think the rest of the guys on the punt team played the biggest role in this award,” Stewart said. “I have a great snapper, shield and front line covering downfield. It made it really difficult for the other team to get anything going when our punt team was on the field.”

As per, Stewart has had 38 punts this season, covering a total distance of 1,557 yards, resulting in an average of 41 yards per punt. Among these, his longest punt extended 55-yards with five punts exceeding 50-yards. Out of those 38 punts, he’s managed to limit touchbacks to just one. Furthermore, he currently leads the LSC with 12 punts landing inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

However, Stewart’s success goes beyond just numbers. His ability to strategically place punts, avoid touchbacks and pin opponents within their 20-yard line has significantly influenced field position and, subsequently, the team’s overall performance.

Stewart’s proficiency, as he explained, resulted from his learning experiences and a shared trust in the collective abilities of his front-line teammates.

“I’ve had the chance to learn from a lot of guys that played here before me,” Stewart mentioned. “Taking what they did and adding my twist to it has allowed me to be confident wherever we are on the field. As far as the 12 punts inside the 20, that’s all due to my front-line guys covering downfield; none of that is possible without them doing a great job swarming the returner.”

Reflecting on memorable moments from this season, Stewart highlighted the teamwork they displayed during one of their recent games against Midwestern State University.

“I’d have to say [it] was our best week as a full unit. Having five punts be fair-caught played a big part in the field position game. Our coverage team did a great job allowing 0 punt return yards, which I think overall helped our defense out,” Stewart shared.

In a weekend marked by multiple victories, the football team excelled with a solid 30-14 win as part of CWU’s Homecoming and Family weekend celebration. As the Wildcats set their sights on the future, Stewart shared some of the team’s shared ambitions.

“Our team is really looking forward to the opportunity of competing for a LSC championship. That’s been the main goal all year, and we’ve been on a good path to completing that goal. As far as special teams, I think continuing to trust our practice routines will give us the best chance at helping the team when our number is called,” Stewart said.

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