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Published 12/04/2012
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Five VB Players Named AVCA All-Region

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Tied for the most in the country, the University of Miami volleyball team had five student-athletes named AVCA Division I All-Region Tuesday. Head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch earned AVCA Division I East Region Coach of the Year after guiding the Hurricanes to a 25-6 record.

Taking All-Region honors on the 14-member team were junior right side Alex Johnson, sophomore middle blocker Alexis Mourning, sophomore middle blocker Emani Sims and senior Nrithya Sundararaman, while junior libero Ryan Shaffer was an Honorable Mention. The Canes match Iowa State and Penn State for the most honorees nationally with five.

"We are very honored to continue to receive great recognition for our players and coaching staff for this season," Lantagne Welch said. "We had great team success this year, and this is certainly a reflection of everyone in our program's efforts."

Lantagne Welch, who won ACC Coach of the Year, adds East Region Coach of the Year for the second time (2008) in her career. She led the Hurricanes to a program-record 17 ACC victories to finish second in the competitive conference. It was the third time in the last five seasons the program earned 25 wins overall. After losing three All-ACC players from the 2011 roster, Lantagne Welch guided UM back to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight season, with an ACC-record six players earning All-ACC honors.

Johnson, who has started every match in her career, displayed consistency throughout the season finishing amongst the top four on the team in attack percentage (.263), kills (282), assists (86), services aces (44), blocks (85.0) and digs (290). Recording nine double-doubles during the year, she won ACC Player of the Week after posting 16 kills and 16 digs in a win over then-No. 6 Florida State in September and nearly posted a triple-doubles in the NCAA Tournament against College of Charleston (11 kills, 10 blocks, eight digs).

A force in the middle of the net, Mourning had a breakout season. The sophomore had 305 kills and 129 blocks, both ranked second on the team. Also being fourth in the ACC in blocks per set (1.22), she had 10 total blocks in a win over North Carolina to earn ACC Co-Player of the Week Oct. 8. The middle blocker tallied double-digit kills in 16 matches, with a minimum of five total blocks in 16 contests.

Sims also earns All-Region after leading the Canes with 160 blocks up front, second-best in the ACC (1.39/set). Also pacing UM with a .328 hitting percentage on 285 kills, she won ACC Player of the Week on two occasions throughout the year. The highlight of her season came against Clemson when Sims recorded a school-record 16 total blocks to go with 16 kills, including nine in one set, to win Collegiate Volleyball Update National Player of the Week. The sophomore notched at least five blocks in 16 matches.

The lone senior on the roster, Sundararaman was effective distributing the ball around the court for Miami, leading the ACC with 10.72 assists per set. Totaling 1,201 assists this season, she ends her career with 2,357 to finish third in program history. She won ACC Player of the Week Nov. 19 after putting up 69 assists in her final two matches at home, adding five kills and seven digs against Boston College. Sundararaman was also named Capital One Academic All-District with a 3.90 GPA as a neurobiology major.

Earning an Honorable Mention spot, Shaffer was the most consistent defensive player for the Hurricanes, picking up 539 digs to finish second in the ACC (4.69/set). The libero led the team in digs in 25 of the 30 matches, with a season-high 30 against NC State and Boston College. She is now ranked fourth in school history with 1,562 career digs.

A total of 13 student-athletes from the ACC earned recognition on the All-East Region Team.

2012 AVCA Division I All-East Region

Name School Position Year
Sandra Adeleye Clemson Middle Blocker Senior
Kelly Bacon Northeastern Outside Hitter Junior
Megan Cyr NC State Setter Senior
Sareea Freeman Florida State Middle Blocker Senior
Alex Johnson Miami Right Side Junior
Ali McCurdy Duke Libero Junior
Emily McGee North Carolina Outside Hitter Senior
Monique Mead Georgia Tech Right Side Senior
Alexis Mourning Miami Middle Blocker Sophomore
Ashley Neff Florida State Middle Blocker Junior
Paige Neuenfeldt North Carolina Middle Blocker Freshman
Emani Sims Miami Middle Blocker Sophomore
Nrithya Sundararaman Miami Setter Senior
Fatma Yildirim Florida State Outside Hitter Senior

Honorable Mention
Name School Position Year
Cara Baarendse Virginia Tech Middle Blocker Senior
Ashleigh Crutcher Maryland Outside Hitter Sophomore
Caroline Douglas Liberty Outside Hitter R-Freshman
I'ishah Keliikoa Towson Middle Blocker Senior
Chaniel Nelson North Carolina Right Side Sophomore
Ryan Shaffer Miami Libero Junior

Region Freshman of the Year: Paige Neuenfeldt, North Carolina, Middle Blocker
Region Coach of the Year: Nicole Lantagne Welch, Miami

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