Women’s volleyball earns four AVCA All-America honorees

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The No. 1 Penn State women’s volleyball team (33-2) had four players earn AVCA All-America status, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced Wednesday. Junior Ariel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.) and sophomore Micha Hancock (Edmond, Okla.) were first-team AVCA All-America selections, junior Katie Slay (Raleigh, N.C.) was selected to the AVCA Second Team and junior Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) was a third-team honoree. The AVCA Division I Player of the Year will be announced on Friday, Dec. 14 at the AVCA All-American/Players of the Year Banquet.

This is the third award for McClendon, who was the 2010 AVCA Division I National Freshman of the Year, and a second-team pick in 2010 and garnered first-team laurels in 2011. This is the second honor for Scott, who picked up a third-team award in 2010, and Slay, who was also a second-team All-American in 2011. This is the first All-America honor of Hancock’s career. Hancock is one of just two sophomores to be named to the AVCA All-American First Team. Scott, McClendon and Slay are three of 16 student-athletes on all three teams to have earned All-America awards prior to 2012.

Penn State’s four selections bring the program’s total number of All-America honorees to 75 since 1979. Head coach Russ Rose has now coaches at least one All-American in 33 of his 34 seasons at the helm of the Nittany Lion program.

The AVCA honors First, Second and Third Team All-America selections, with each team consisting of 14 players per squad, along with recognizing Honorable Mention honorees. The Nittany Lions lead all schools with four honorees. Oregon and Nebraska were second with three student-athletes being honored. Oregon had two first-team selections and one second-team pick, while the Huskers had one selected to the first-team and two second-team honorees.

Scott was honored as the 2012 Big Ten Player of the Year and was also an All-Big Ten selection. She ranks in the top 10 in the Big Ten in kills per set (3.73) and points per set (4.20). She leads the team in kills with 451 with a .312 hitting percentage. The AVCA Mideast Region honoree is third on the team in blocks with 97 (0.80 blocks per set) and has also contributed 103 digs. She eclipsed the 1,000 career kills milestone and heads into the NCAA National Semifinals with 1,012. She has led the team in kills 21 times this season and has had 23 double-digit kill matches. In addition, she has had 29 multiple-block matches. A Big Ten Player of the Week (Nov. 5), she started all 35 matches at opposite.

Hancock secured her first All-America honor after being named the 2011 AVCA Mideast Region Freshman of the Year and earning a spot on the 2012 AVCA Mideast Region squad. The inaugural Big Ten Setter of the Year, Hancock is second in the Big Ten with 11.22 assists per set and has guided the Nittany Lion offense to a .307 hitting percentage for the season. Penn State’s hitting percentage leads the conference and ranks third nationally. Hancock ranks third in the country and second in the Big Ten with 0.65 aces per set. She owns the Penn State single season record for aces (91), which she set in 2011, and leads the team in 2012 with 81. Hancock also owns the Penn State single-match record for aces with 10 against Binghamton on Nov. 30. She broke the NCAA Tournament record for aces and heads into the NCAA National Semifinals with 22. An All-Big Ten honoree, Hancock started all 35 matches at setter and was a six-time Big Ten Setter of the Week. She is third on the team in digs with 286 and fifth in blocks with 75.

Slay, a 6-6 middle hitter, was an All-Big Ten and AVCA Mideast Region selection in 2012. She garnered Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades three times this season. She leads the Nittany Lions with a .421 hitting percentage, which ranks second in the Big Ten and seventh in the nation. Slay leads the team in blocks with 156, averaging 1.32 blocks per set. Her 1.32 blocks per set leads the league and ranks 32nd nationally. Slay was the 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a 2012 Preseason All-Big Ten honoree. She has led the team in blocks 21 times and her 412 career blocks ranks 14th all-time at Penn State. Slay is third on the team in kills with 272, averaging 2.31 kills per set, and has hit .320 or better in 27 of 34 matches player.

McClendon is a 2012 All-Mideast Region and All-Big Ten honoree. She surpassed the 1,000 career kills mark this season and currently has 1,239. McClendon has started all 35 matches so far this season and is second on the team in kills with 389, averaging 3.24 kills per set. She is also second on the team in digs with 330 (2.75 digs per set) and has contributed 68 blocks (0.57 blocks per set). McClendon has led the team in kills 11 times and digs eight times this season, and has recorded 12 double-doubles. This is her third straight AVCA award.

The Nittany Lions continue NCAA Tournament play on Thursday, Dec. 13 against No. 5 seed Oregon. Action is set for 9 p.m. in the second NCAA National Semifinal match. Michigan and No. 3 seed Texas meet in the earlier semifinal at 7 p.m. Both matches will air live on ESPN2.

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