Wicinski, Rio, Viox and Shondell Honored at MAC Volleyball Awards Banquet

Updated 11/19/2010
Cleveland, Ohio - The Mid-American Conference announced the 2010 regular season awards at a tournament banquet this evening. The awards were voted on by the league's head coaches.

Northern Illinois outside hitter Lauren Wicinski became the first freshman conference history to claim Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors. Wincinski is the first high school All-American to join the NIU volleyball program and daughter of two former Huskie student-athletes has lived up to the hype thus far. In her first weekend of collegiate competition, Wicinski took home the Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the Week award on August 30. She then won the award again on September 20, October 4, October 11 and November 15, giving her the award in every month of the regular season. She has also made three all-tournament teams, including being named MVP of the UIC Invitational. As of November 14, she leads the MAC in points (5.65/set), kills (4.78/set), and aces (0.58/set). Additionally, as of November 14, she ranks fifth in nation in points, seventh in kills and eighth in aces, leading all freshmen in all three categories. Thus far in her rookie campaign, Wicinski has set the NIU freshman record for points (656), kills (556) and aces (67) in a season. In the program's single season record book, her ace and kill totals rank third and fourth, respectively.

First year head coach Steve Shondell of Ball State was named MAC Coach of the Year by his peers after leading his team to a 24-4 overall record and a 14-2 MAC record. The Cardinals claimed the MAC Regular Season and West Division titles along with the top seed in the MAC Tournament. The 24-4 record ties as the best 28-match record in program history with the 1993 squad. He also became the first head coach in program history to lead the Cardinals to the MAC Regular Season Championship in his first season when BSU defeated Central Michigan (Nov. 6)

Western Michigan's Sam Viox became the Bronco's third-straight Setter of the Year. Throughout the 2010 season Sam Viox has been the top setter in the Mid-American Conference and one of the best in the nation. Viox's 11.79 assists per set rank her ninth in the nation and she averaged 12.18 assists per set in 16 conference matches. She was named MAC West Offensive Player of the Week (9/7) after being named MVP of the IUPUI Hampton Inn Invitational (9/4-5) with 11.92 assists, 2.17 digs, 0.50 kills, 0.50 blocks and 0.33 aces per set. Viox was also named to the all-tournament team at the Seton Hall Invitational and at the Sports Imports Classic. Her 1,250 assists ranks her 10th in WMU history in assists in the season with the possibility of jumping up to third if the Broncos progress and her 12.18 assists per set ranks seventh in school history in assists per set in a season.

Ball State senior Alyssa Rio was named Defensive Player of the Year for the 2010 season. Rio enters the 2010 MAC Tournament as the national leader with a 5.88 digs-per-set average. She became just the second player in program history to eclipse the 2,000 dig mark with her third dig at Central Michigan (Nov. 6). With 50 more digs last weekend, Rio upped her career total to 2,073. Rio is one of only eight players in MAC history to eclipse the 2,000 digs mark including BSU's all-time digs leader Stephanie Keller (2001-04) who is second in league history with 2,273 career digs. After collecting 20-or-more digs in both matches last weekend, Alyssa Rio is first in program history with 20-or-more digs in 49 career matches. In addition, Rio ranks second in program history with double-digit digs in 96 matches, trailing Stephanie Keller's (2001-04) total of 101. Rio also enters the week second in program history with her 5.03 career digs-per-set average.

Joining Wicinski, Viox and Rio on the All-MAC first team were Kelsey Brandl of Ball State, Kaitlyn Schultz of Central Michigan, Rachel Iaquaniello and Haley Stein of Eastern Michigan, Michele Metzler of Miami, Kristin Hoffman of Northern Illinois, Sue Jacobi and Katie Post of Ohio and Jessica Brown of Western Michigan.

Receiving All-MAC second team honors were Tina Dimitrijevs of Akron , Whitney Heeres and Brittany McGinnis, Ball State, Abby Niekamp of Buffalo, Lauren Krupsky of Central Michigan, Ashley Mason of Eastern Michigan, Liva Brivule and Meredith Paskert of Kent State, Maddie Hughes of Northern Illinois, Michelle Jantsch of Ohio, Kassie Kadera of Toledo and Allyson Doyle of Western Michigan.

In addition to Wicinski and Heeres , Erin Short of Eastern Michigan, Alexis Hartnett of Ohio and Ali Gossen and Lena Oliver of Western Michigan were named to the All-Freshman team.

The 2010 MAC Volleyball Tournament quarterfinals begin tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Toledo SeaGate Centre. To keep up-to-date on MAC Volleyball login on to www.mac-sports.com.

All-MAC First Team
Kelsey Brandl, Ball State
Alyssa Rio, Ball State
Kaitlyn Schultz, Central Michigan
Rachel Iaquaniello, Eastern Michigan
Haley Stein, Eastern Michigan
Michele Metzler, Miami
Kristin Hoffman, Northern Illinois
Lauren Wicinski, Northern Illinois
Sue Jacobi, Ohio
Katie Post, Ohio
Jessica Brown, Western Michigan
Sam Viox, Western Michigan

All-MAC Second Team
Tina Dimitrijevs, Akron
Whitney Heeres, Ball State
Brittany McGinnis, Ball State
Abby Niekamp, Buffalo
Lauren Krupsky, Central Michigan
Ashley Mason, Eastern Michigan
Liva Brivule, Kent State
Meredith Paskert, Kent State
Maddie Hughes, Northern Illinois
Michelle Jantsch, Ohio
Kassie Kadera, Toledo
Allyson Doyle, Western Michigan

All-MAC Freshman Team
Whitney Heeres, Ball State
Erin Short, Eastern Michigan
Alexis Hartnett, Ohio
Lauren Wicinski, Northern Illinois
Ali Gossen, Western Michigan
Lena Oliver, Western Michigan

Defensive Player of the Year - Alyssa Rio, Ball State
Setter of the Year - Sam Viox, Western Michigan
Freshman of the Year - Lauren Wicinski, Northern Illinois
Player of the Year - Lauren Wicinski, Northern Illinois
Coach of the Year - Steve Shondell, Ball State