Redbird Volleyball Caps Off 2013 Season with Team Awards
January 14, 2014
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State volleyball student-athletes and staff gathered for a team dinner Monday evening to close out the 2013 season with team awards, as announced by head coach Melissa Myers.
The Redbirds capped off an exciting season in the semifinal round of the Valley Tournament with a hard-fought five set loss to tournament-host and conference champion Wichita State. ISU finished the season with a 19-13 record, with an 11-7 effort in conference play.
Four team awards were handed out Monday night at the team dinner. Junior libero Emily Orrick was the recipient of the Most Valuable Player award. To cap off her debut season at ISU, Orrick was selected as the second-consecutive ISU player to receive the Missouri Valley Conference Libero of the Year award, just the third player in Illinois State program history to achieve the honor. Orrick led the team in total digs (572) and was second on the team in service aces (32).
Junior setter Kaitlyn Early received the Most Improved Player award, as she lead the team with 34 service aces and finished the season with an offense-commanding 1,230 assists. The Valley Scholar-Athlete First-Team member helped increase the team hitting efficiency, as well as increasing her individual hitting efficiency from 2012. She moved from fourth on the team in aces to first, as well as recording career-high performances in assists (59) at IUPUI (8/30/13), in digs (21) at Butler (9/13/13) and kills (8) against Wichita State (11/9/13) during the season.
Senior right-side hitter Brooklyn Hlafka was awarded the Kelly Meisner Courage Award. As a two time MVC Scholar-Athlete honorable mention honoree, Hlafka handled higher expectations and pressure as a senior despite a limited volleyball background and several physical challenges along the way. The Nevada-Reno and Butler All-Tournament Team selection, ranked second on the team in kills per set (2.38), as well as third in blocks (91) and blocks per set (0.93). Hlafka recorded double-digits kills in 13 matches and set a career-high 13 digs against Wichita State (11/9/13).
The second team award that was established to honor a former ISU volleyball player was awarded to junior outside-hitter Stacey Niao. Niao received the Kristin Kueltzo Inspiration Award as she improved in almost every statistical category from 2012, while also consistently setting the standard for work ethic, positive attitude and commitment to the program. At the start of the season, Niao was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the Nevada-Reno Tournament. The Kawerau, New Zealand, native appeared in all 32 matches of the season. She ranked second on the team in kills (272), digs (308) and digs per set (2.68). Niao tallied at least 20 digs in four matches throughout the season and compiled a career-high 17 kills at Butler (9/13/13).
The Redbirds will return to action this spring in preparation for the 2014 season.
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