GREENSBORO, N.C. - Tying an Atlantic Coast Conference record, six University of Miami volleyball student-athletes have been selected to the All-ACC Team, as announced Wednesday by the league. The 18-member team was decided based on a vote of the league's 12 head coaches.
Miami was represented by six first-time All-ACC performers: junior outside hitter Taylor Hollins, junior right side Alex Johnson, sophomore middle blocker Alexis Mourning, junior libero Ryan Shaffer, sophomore middle blocker Emani Sims and senior setter Nrithya Sundararaman.
"We have had a tremendous season and to see so many players recognized is a great honor," head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. "It shows the incredible balance and how so many people have contributed so much to our team. This has been a special year and even the players who are not being recognized have meant so much to our success."
Hollins leads the Canes with 337 kills (3.18/set) this season after moving from the back row to outside hitter. Posting a team-leading 16 double-doubles, she earned ACC Co-Player of the Week on Oct. 29 following efficient performances against Virginia Tech and Virginia, where she hit at a .548 clip. Hollins set a career high with 20 kills against Oregon State and is currently second on the team with 320 digs (3.02/set). At Duke, she notched 19 kills and 20 digs, including three slammers in the final four points when the Canes trailed 14-12 in the fifth set.
"Taylor is a great all-around player and does so many great things on the court," Lantagne Welch said. "She has displayed her excellent ball-handling skills and the ability to score all season."
Johnson, who was also named Preseason All-ACC, has started every match in her career for the Hurricanes. She was selected ACC Player of the Week on Sept. 10 after recording 16 kills and 16 digs in the four-set win over No. 6 Florida State at home. Ranking second in the league with an average of 0.40 services aces per set (42), Johnson has eight double-doubles this season and was named Hurricane Invitational MVP at the season-opening tournament.
"Alex is a great offensive player for us on the right side and she is very effective and smart on the court," Lantagne Welch said. "She has made a big step this year as far as improving her blocking and is very strong all-around player. In addition, Alex has one of the best serves on our team to put the pressure on the opponent."
Playing in just 11 matches as a freshman, Mourning emerged this season as a force in the middle of the net for the Canes. She ranks second on the team with 292 kills (2.78/set) and 136 blocks (1.30/set). Also being third in the ACC in blocks, Mourning had 10 total blocks in a win over North Carolina to earn ACC Co-Player of the Week on Oct. 8. The middle blocker has tallied double-digit kills in 15 matches, with a minimum of five total blocks in 16 contests.
"Alexis has had a breakout season and has been a very consistent player for us," Lantagne Welch said. "She is strong not only attacking effectively in the middle, but also as a blocker. Alexis has done a very nice job of closing blocks and impacting our defense throughout the season."
In the back row as the libero, Shaffer is second in the conference with an average of 4.77 digs per set (506) this season. She has led the team in digs in 23 matches this year, picking up a season-high 30 against both NC State and Boston College. Shaffer ranks fourth in program history with 1,529 digs and is 479 shy of the school record with another season of eligibility remaining.
"Ryan might actually be the most consistent player on our team," Lantagne Welch said. "She has had a great season in a position that often receives less recognition. Ryan has been a steadying force in the back row for us with her solid passing and defense. Ryan is a competitive kid that gives a winning effort every night."
Sims, who was also named Preseason All-ACC, is second in the league with 1.35 blocks per set (143). She has been named ACC Player of the Week on two occasions this season, first posting 32 kills on a .500 hitting percentage in home wins over Duke and Wake Forest. At Clemson, Sims broke a school record with 16 blocks to go with 16 kills in a thrilling five-set victory to win the league honor in addition to Collegiate Volleyball Update National Player of the Week. Having at least five blocks in 14 matches on the season, Sims leads the team with a .327 hitting percentage.
"Emani has had a very dynamic season out of the middle for us," Lantagne Welch said. "Her blocking has come on this season and her quickness on the court makes her a feared attacker and also a strong blocker."
The lone senior on the roster, Sundararaman has been very effective distributing the ball around the court for UM. She leads the ACC with 10.68 assists per set (1,100) and recently earned ACC Player of the Week Monday. The setter had 69 combined assists in sweeps over Boston College and Maryland, while also putting down five kills and seven digs against the Eagles. Sundararaman has had at least 33 assists in all but two matches, being third in school history with 2,257 assists in her career. The neurobiology major was also named to the Capital One Academic All-District, maintaining a 3.90 GPA.
"Nrithya is having the best year of her career and she has found a way to use all of our weapons and keep a balanced attack," Lantagne Welch said. "Her unpredictability as a setter this season has made us hard to defend."
Led by the six selections from Miami, nine different teams are represented on the All-ACC Team. The Hurricanes tie Clemson's 2007 team with the six award winners. UM had a five different players earn ACC Player of the Week six times this season.
Miami (25-4, 17-2) is currently No. 23 in the ACVA Coaches Poll and will travel to face Florida State for the ACC title Friday at 1 p.m. The match will be broadcast on ESPN3.
For all the latest information on Miami Hurricanes volleyball, follow the official Twitter feed, @CanesVB, or "Like Us" on Facebook at facebook.com/MiamiHurricanes.
|2012 ACC Volleyball Individuals Awards|
|Player of the Year||Ashley Neff||Jr.||MB||Florida State|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Ali McCurdy||Jr.||L||Duke|
|Freshman of the Year||Paige Neuenfeldt||Fr.||MB||North Carolina|
|Coach of the Year||Nicole Lantagne Welch||Miami|
|2012 All-ACC Team|
|Sandra Adeleye %||Sr.||MH||Clemson|
|Ali McCurdy #||Jr.||L||Duke|
|Christiana Gray #||Sr.||MB||Duke|
|Ashley Neff @||Jr.||MB||Florida State|
|Fatma Yildirim||Sr.||OH||Florida State|
|Sareea Freeman||Sr.||MB||Florida State|
|Monique Mead %||Sr.||RS||Georgia Tech|
|Megan Cyr||Sr.||S||NC State|
|Chaniel Nelson @||So.||RS||North Carolina|
|Emily McGee #||Sr.||OH||North Carolina|
|Cara Baarendsee #||Sr.||OPP||Virginia Tech|
! - Two-Time selection
# - Three-Time selection
% - Four-time selection
|2012 All-ACC Freshmen Team|
|Katty Workman||Fr.||OH||Boston College|
|Chanell Clark-Bibbs||Fr.||MB||Georgia Tech|
|Paige Neuenfeldt||Fr.||MB||North Carolina|