Four earn AVCA All-America honors

December 19, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Four Nittany Lions have been selected to the AVCA Division I All-America teams. As one of two Penn State second team honorees, Ali Frantti highlights the group with AVCA DI National Freshman of the Year honors. Seniors Micha Hancock and Nia Grant earned spots on the first team, while redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney and Frantti were selected to the second team.

The four selections marks the third consecutive year that Penn State has placed four Nittany Lions on one of the three teams, bringing the program's total number of All-American honorees to 83 since 1979. Additionally, head coach Russ Rose has mentored at least one All-American in 35 of his 36 seasons at the helm of the program. Frantti is the fourth Nittany Lion to earn national freshman of the year honors, joining Nicole Fawcett (2005), Megan Hodge (2006) and Deja McClendon (2010).

The AVCA divides its All-America class into three 14-student-ahtlete teams (first, second and third) adding an additional honorable mention squad. On Dec. 19, AVCA announced Hancock as 2014 D1 National Player of the Year.

Hancock collects her third consecutive first team honor after earning a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team and AVCA All-Northeast Region honors. 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 (1.03) for the 14th consecutive week, her single-season (124) and career aces (378) 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 .348 hitting percentage, which ranks first nationally and leads the Big Ten.

Grant picks up her second career AVCA honor having earned honorable mention distinction in 2013. She recently garnered her first career Big Ten postseason accolade with a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team, while also earning her second consecutive AVCA All-Northeast Region honor. Having led the conference and the nation in hitting percentage for most of the season, her team-high .442 hitting efficiency presently leads the conference and ranks fourth nationally. Defensively, her 1.11 blocks per set ranks second on the team. With 455 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 and AVCA All-Region honor, as she was tabbed All-Big Ten honorable mention. Having started every match during the regular season, she's emerged as one of Penn State's top offensive attackers this year, posting 13 double-digit kill performances and leading the team in kills on 11 occasions. Her .364 hitting percentage currently ranks third in the conference. This season she was honored as the Big Ten Player of the Week (11/17) after helping PSU 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 recently earned AVCA All-Northeast region honors as well as the AVCA All-Northeast Region Freshman of the Year award. She also picked up conference postseason recognition on two different teams, 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 will seek its second consecutive and seventh overall National Championship on Saturday, Dec. 20, in the NCAA title match vs. BYU. The Lions and Cougars square off at 7:30 p.m. in Oklahoma City, Okla., with the match airing live on ESPN2.

Last Updated December 19, 2014