Women's volleyball dominates Big Ten awards

University Park, Pa. — After winning its eighth straight and 14th overall Big Ten title, the No. 8 Penn State women's volleyball team secured three individual awards from the league, conference officials announced Tuesday (Nov. 30). Head coach Russ Rose was named Coach of the Year by his peers and the media, senior opposite Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) was selected Player of the Year and freshman outside hitter Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) earned Freshman of the Year.

Brown and McClendon joined senior Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) as First Team All-Big Ten honorees. Brown and Wilson were unanimous selections. In addition, senior libero Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten laurels, McClendon was a unanimous selection to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and senior Fatima Balza (Merida, Venezuela) was Penn State's Big Ten Sportsmanship honoree.

Brown is the 12th overall and sixth straight Nittany Lion to earn Player of the Year honors. Brown, a three-time All-Big Ten selection is a two-time AVCA All-America selection. Brown started all 31 matches this season and leads the Nittany Lions with 431 kills, averaging 4.14 kills per set on .324 hitting. She is second on the team with 234 digs (2.25 digs per set) and is third on the squad with 90 total blocks (0.87 blocks per set). Her 4.14 kills per set ranks second in the Big Ten and 25th nationally, while her .324 attack percentage ranks eighth in the league. Also, her 4.75 points per set ranks second in the conference. In 2010, Brown was a Unanimous Preseason All-Big Ten pick and earned Player of the Week laurels three times. She also surpassed the 1,000 career kills milestone this season and has 1,206 kills for her career heading into NCAA Tournament play.

A Penn State player has been selected Big Ten Freshman of the Year in eight of the last nine seasons and it's the ninth time in program history. McClendon is the third Freshman of the Year honoree on this year's squad as Wilson was selected in 2007 and sophomore Darcy Dorton was chosen in 2009. McClendon is a four-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week. She ranks second on the squad this season with 351 kills and ranks seventh in the conference with a .329 attack percentage. Her 3.43 kills per set rank second on the team, while averaging 1.90 digs per set and has 64.0 total blocks for the season.

Rose earned his 12th overall and sixth consecutive Big Ten Coach of the Year award. He also picked up the honor in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. He holds a career record of 1,027-164 in his 32 seasons for a nation-leading winning percentage of .862. Rose guided the Nittany Lions to their eighth straight and 14th overall Big Ten title in 2010 after finishing the league slate with a 16-4 record. He has captured 22 conference titles during his career, including eight straight Atlantic 10 titles from 1983-1990. The Nittany Lions are one of just two teams to appear in every postseason event since its inception in 1981. Rose has also coaches at least one All-American in 30 of his 31 seasons, including 20 conference players of the year in the last 26 years.

Wilson earned her third conference honor after also being named to the First Team in 2008 and 2009. A two-time AVCA All-American, Wilson leads the team and ranks fifth in the nation with a .425 attack percentage. Her 278 kills (2.67 kills per set) ranks third on the team, while her 114 total blocks (1.10 blocks per set) is a team-best. She recently surpassed the 600 career blocks milestone to become the fifth Penn State player in program history to reach the mark and only the 10th player in Big Ten Conference records. Wilson also surpassed the 1,000 career kills milestone this season and has 1,058 kills heading into NCAA Tournament play.

D'Errico earned her first Big Ten postseason award. For the past two season, D'Errico has been the starting libero for the Nittany Lions. This season, D'Errico leads the team with 433 digs, averaging 4.16 digs per set. She also had a team-best 43 aces (0.41 aces per set). A Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, D'Errico's digs per set ranks sixth in the Big Ten, while her aces per set rank second in the league and 24th nationally. D'Errico is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and earned ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District accolades in 2010.

Balza joined the Nittany Lions for the 2009 season after spending her first two years at Western Nebraska Community College. As the Big Ten Sportsmanship honoree for Penn State women's volleyball, she is one of 11 student-athletes chosen because they have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. They must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside the competition setting. Balza is second on the team this season with 97 total blocks. Her 1.31 blocks per set ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 21st in the nation.

What's Next?
Penn State, the No. 4 seed, hosts the NCAA First and Second Rounds on Dec. 3-4 at Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions take on Niagara on Friday at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall. Virginia Tech faces Delaware in the other First Round match at 5 p.m. The winner of both matches will play on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Rec Hall. The match between Penn State and Niagara will be broadcast via tape-delay on the Big Ten Network and air on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 4:30 p.m.

ALL SESSION tickets for the First and Second rounds MUST be purchased at the Bryce Jordan Center Ticket Office or by calling 814-865-5555 beginning on Monday, Nov. 29 at 10 a.m. up until Friday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. All session tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for youth and students with a valid college or university ID and $8 for groups of 20 or more. SINGLE SESSION tickets will only be available at Rec Hall on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3-4, and are $8 for adults, $6 for youth and students and $5 for groups. The first 200 students with a valid ID will get in free.

 

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Last Updated March 21, 2011