Four earn AVCA All-Northeast Region honors

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Fifth-seeded Penn State women's volleyball (32-3) earned five AVCA DI Northeast Regional honors, as selected by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) this afternoon. Seniors Micha Hancock and Nia Grant, redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney and freshman Ali Frantti joined 10 others on the 14-member All-Northeast Region squad. Frantti highlighted the group with Northeast Region Freshman of the Year honors.

The four all-region accolades brings Penn State's total number of honorees to 85 in program history, while also marking the third consecutive year the Nittany Lions have earned at least four honorees in a single season. Hancock is the only three-year All-Northeast Region selection, while Grant is one of four to earn back-to-back honors. Whitney and Frantti each picked up their first career All-Northeast Region laurels.

Frantti is the eighth Nittany Lion in program history to be selected as an AVCA Regional Freshman of the Year. Penn State has claimed the individual accolade in five of the last six years with current Nittany Lions Micha Hancock (2011) and Megan Courtney (2012) having previously earned the award.

Hancock recently earned her fourth consecutive Big Ten postseason award last week as she was tabbed a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team. This year, she picked up five conference Setter of the Week awards, while also earning her second career AVCA DI National Player of the Week award (9/30). Hancock rewrote several record books during the 2014 regular season with her outstanding performances from the endline. As the national leader in aces per set (1.05) for the 13th consecutive week, her single-season (119) and career aces (373) totals rank atop both the Big Ten and Penn State record books. In addition to her standout serving, she's directed the offense to a .355 hitting percentage, which ranks first nationally and leads the Big Ten. She's also paced three of her top hitters to .365 hitting or better this year.

Grant recently garnered her first career Big Ten postseason accolade with a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team. Having led the conference and the nation in hitting percentage for most of the season, her team-high .453 hitting efficiency presently leads the conference and ranks second nationally. Defensively, her 1.12 blocks per set ranks second on the team. With 448 career blocks, a she's tied for 12th on the Penn State all-time list. Earlier this season, she was selected as the Big Ten Player of the Week after helping the Nittany Lions to the Villanova Classic title with double-digit kills in three-of-four matches during the undefeated week.

Whitney also earned her first career Big Ten postseason award last week, with All-Big Ten honorable mention honors. Having started every match during the regular season, she's emerged as one of Penn State's top offensive attackers this year, posting 12 double-digit kill performances and leading the team in kills on 10 occasions. Her .365 hitting percentage currently ranks third in the conference. She was recently honored as the Big Ten Player of the Week (11/17) after helping Penn State to a pair of straight set wins against Iowa and Minnesota. She notched a match-high 16 and 17 kills, respectively, while also adding six blocks in the win against the Golden Gophers.

Frantti picked conference postseason recognition on two different teams last week, earning All-Big Ten honorable mention honors as well as a unanimous spot of the All-Freshman team. A three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Frantti highlighted the season with a double-double performance at then-No. 2 Stanford with 22 kills and 11 digs. She presently leads the team with 3.27 kills per set on .321 hitting, which ranks 13th in the Big Ten standings. Starting every match, she's led the team in kills 15 times this season.

Penn State is set to make its 12th consecutive trip to the NCAA regional semifinals traveling to Louisville, Ky. this weekend to take on No. 12 UCLA (22-11) in the round of 16 Friday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. in the KFC Yum! Center. The matchup will broadcast live on ESPN3.   

Last Updated December 12, 2014