The nation’s best women’s volleyball team — at least for the regular season — got a lot of recognition Tuesday from the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
Six Nittany Lions were honored as AVCA Northeast Region All-Americans, paced by region Player of the Year Simone Lee and Coach of the Year Russ Rose. The six players honored matches Texas for the most athletes making the eight regional lists.
The AVCA’s national All-Americans will be announced next week before the NCAA semifinals.
Penn State (31-1) finished the season ranked atop the AVCA poll and grabbed the No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament.
“Your body of work through the whole season is what it is,” Rose said Tuesday afternoon during a discussion about this weekend’s matches. “We’re entering this round with the most number of wins and the most wins against the other 15 teams that are (still) in the tournament. But if we don’t play well, it doesn’t mean anything.”
The Nittany Lions host Missouri at 2 p.m. Friday at Rec Hall in the regional semifinals. Michigan State and Illinois meet in the second semifinal match at 4 p.m., and the winners of Friday’s matches meet at 8 p.m. Saturday in the regional championship.
Joining Lee on the 14-player Northeast Region list are Haleigh Washington, Ali Frantti, Heidi Thelen and Kendall White. Abby Detering was named honorable mention.
Rose picked up the top regional coaching honor for the 13th time, and the first since 2013, in leading the team to a share of the Big Ten title with a 19-1 conference record. Rose has more Division I wins, and a better win percentage, than any other women’s coach in the sport’s history and has been the AVCA national Coach of the Year five times, with the last also in 2013.
Lee, a senior outside hitter making the list a second time, was the Big Ten’s Player of the Year and led Penn State with 3.87 kills per set, adding 2.23 digs per set. Washington was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and made the regional list for the third time. She is averaging 3.06 kills per set and leads the nation with her .513 hitting efficiency. The senior middle blocker also averages 1.5 blocks per set.
White, a sophomore, made the list for the first time in her career, and is one of only two liberos on the Northeast Region team after averaging a team-best 3.76 digs per set and delivering 22 service aces. Thelen makes the list for the first time as a junior right-side hitter, hitting .363 this season with her 1.69 kills per set, and also averaging 0.94 blocks per set.
Frantti is on the list for the fourth time, with honorable mention honors last season. The senior outside hitter put down 2.46 kills per set this season along with 1.76 digs and 0.58 blocks per set. Detering has been filling multiple roles during her senior season, as a part-time setter with 5.83 assists per set in the team’s two-setter offense, and also playing as a right-side hitter with 1.32 kills and 1.79 digs per set. Detering also leads the team with her 32 aces.