Women’s volleyball earns seven AVCA Mideast Region honors
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The No. 1 Penn State women’s volleyball team (31-2) picked up seven AVCA Mideast Region Awards, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced Tuesday (Dec. 4). Juniors Katie Slay (Raleigh, N.C.), Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) and Ariel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.) and sophomore Micha Hancock (Edmond, Okla.) were four of 14 players named to the all-region squad. In addition, freshman Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) was named the Mideast Region Freshman of the Year and earned honorable mention all-region laurels, and head coach Russ Rose was tabbed the Mideast Region Coach of the Year.
The Nittany Lions’ five all-region awards bring Penn State’s total number of honorees to 76 in program history. Hancock, Slay, McClendon and Scott are now eligible for AVCA All-America honors, which will be announced in conjunction with the NCAA Championship in Louisville, Ky. on Dec. 13 and 15.
This is the fourth consecutive year and seventh time overall that a Penn State freshman has been named the Mideast Region Freshman of the Year. Courtney joins Cassy Salyer (2003), Nicole Fawcett (2005), Megan Hodge (2006), Darcy Dorton (2009), McClendon (2010) and Hancock (2011) as Penn State’s regional freshman of the year honorees.
This is the third accolade for McClendon, the second for both Scott and Slay, and a first for Hancock. Penn State’s five total all-region honorees were the most for any program in the region. Nebraska had four total and Minnesota had three, both including an honorable mention pick.
McClendon earned her third straight regional honor after being named to the all-region team as a freshman and sophomore. A three-time All-Big Ten honoree, she started all 33 matches at outside hitter for the Nittany Lions this season. McClendon is second on the team in kills with 367 and is averaging 3.25 kills per set. A 2012 Preseason All-Big Ten honoree, she also ranks second on the team in digs with 308 tallying 2.73 digs per set. She has led the team in kills 11 times and has posted 11 double-doubles this season. Earlier this season, McClendon surpassed the 1,000 career kills mark and has 1,217 for her career.
Scott garnered her second consecutive all-region accolade after also being named to the all-region team in 2011 as a sophomore. A 2012 All-Big Ten honoree, she was named the Big Ten Player of the Year. Scott was a Preseason All-Big Ten pick and leads the team in kills with 415 averaging 3.64 kills per set, which ranks ninth in the Big Ten. Scott, who was named the Big Ten player of the Week on Nov. 5, started all 33 matches at opposite. She has a .309 hitting percentage and is third on the team in blocks with 92, posting 0.81 per set. Scott, a 2011 AVCA Second Team All-American, has 21 double-digit kill matches and 28 multiple block matches heading into NCAA Regionals. She is approaching the 1,000 career kills milestone and currently has 976.
This is the second honor for Slay, who also was awarded All-Big Ten honors this season. She was the 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a 2012 Preseason All-Big Ten selection. Slay earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades three times this season. She leads the Nittany Lions with a .430 hitting percentage, which ranks second in the Big Ten and seventh nationally. Slay also leads the team in blocks with 150 and blocks per set with 1.35. Her blocks per set average leads the Big Ten and ranks 27th in the nation. She has led the team in blocks 20 times. Slay is third on the team in kills with 260 and has hit .320 or better in 26 of 32 matches played. Her 406 career blocks rank 14th all-time at Penn State.
Hancock, the 2011 AVCA Mideast Region Freshman of the Year, was named to the all-region team for the first time. She was the inaugural Big Ten Setter of the Year and earned Big Ten postseason honors for the second year in a row. She was the 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a member of the Big Ten All-Freshman team. A Big Ten Player of the Week honoree and six-time Big Ten Setter of the Week selection, Hancock directed the Penn State offense to a .310 hitting percentage through the regular season and first and second rounds of the tournament. The hitting percentage leads the Big Ten and ranks third in the nation. She has guided three of her primary hitters to a .305 hitting percentage or better, and five of her primary hitters average 2.02 kills per set or more. Hancock, an AVCA National Player of the Week, ranks second in the Big Ten and 22nd nationally with 11.26 assists per set. She also leads the Big Ten and is third in the country with 0.65 aces per set. Hancock ranks third on the team in digs with 266, and has also tallied 71 blocks and 116 kills.
Courtney was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, the 10th in the last 11 seasons for Penn State and the 11th all-time to receive the recognition. Courtney has played in all 33 matches, starting 32, at outside hitter. She ranks fourth on the team in kills with 220, averaging 2.02 kills per set. A Big Ten Freshman of the Week, she is also fourth on the team in digs with 206, averaging 1.89 per set. Courtney has contributed 88 total blocks, including a team-best 27 solo.
Coach Rose, in his 34th season at the helm of the Nittany Lion program, has guided the Nittany Lions to a 31-2 overall record so far this season. The Nittany Lions captured their 15th Big Ten title with a 19-1 record in league play. It was the team’s ninth conference title in the last 10 years. He owns a career record of 1,088-174 and has coached Penn State to a 388-52 record in the Big Ten since joining the league for the 1991 season. This is his sixth AVCA Mideast Region Coach of the Year award. He also was honored in 1996, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. He is a member of the AVCA Hall of Fame and a four-time AVCA Coach of the Year (1997, 1999, 2007 and 2008).
The Nittany Lions advanced to the NCAA Regional Semifinals and take on No. 16 seed Kentucky on Friday, Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. The match will be streamed live on ESPN3.com.
For more information on the Penn State women’s volleyball team, please visit GoPSUsports.com. The Penn State women’s volleyball 2012 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets.
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