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L-R: Laurie Gonzalez, Sara Heldman, Teresa Coppiellie, Evann Slaughter, Don Ferguson
Courtesy: America East Communications

Coppiellie and Gonzalez From Top-Seeded Albany Highlight Volleyball Awards

Release: 11/18/2010
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Cambridge, Mass. – On the eve of the 2010 America East Volleyball Championship at University at Albany, the top-seeded Great Danes took home a pair of individual trophies, while three other pieces of major hardware were also announced. Albany senior outside hitter Teresa Coppiellie (Canton, Mich./Salem) and junior libero Laurie Gonazalez (Carolina, Puerto Rico/St. Francis School) were tabbed America East Player of the Year and Defensive Specialist of the Year, respectively. University of New Hampshire senior Sara Heldman (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) received the Setter of the Year award and Stony Brook University freshman middle blocker Evann Slaughter (Clinton, Md./Oxon Hill) was the recipient of the league’s Rookie of the Year Award. University of Hartford’s Don Ferguson rounded out the top honors with the nod as Coach of the Year.

Coppiellie, who also made her second-straight appearance on the all-conference first team, is the third-straight Great Dane to take America East’s top award. The outside hitter averaged 3.49 kills per set on .231 hitting and finished the regular season with 4.07 points per set and 13 double-doubles. She was also key on defense as Coppiellie compiled 3.18 digs per set and 46 total blocks, including 20 solo blocks. The senior accumulated 24 service aces this year as well. During the America East slate of matches, Coppiellie was even more dangerous, as she led the league with 4.70 points per set, which included 4.17 kills, 21 blocks and nine aces.

Gonzalez, a 5-9 junior, is a three-time recipient of the Defensive Specialist of the Year honors and again has been nothing short of stellar on the back line. She led the league with 5.13 digs per set overall, and 5.11 digs per set in conference matches. Gonzalez reached double-digit digs in every America East contest and hit the 20-dig mark 12 times this year. She registered 30 digs in a four-set win over Alabama-Birmingham, and 31 digs in another four-set match at Yale.

Heldman, a 5-9 versatile player, becomes the first America East student-athlete to earn both Setter of the Year and Defensive Specialist of the Year honors as she was the co-Defensive Specialist of the Year last season. In 2010, Heldman recorded 9.11 assists per set in addition to 2.76 digs per set. The senior served up 16 aces and recorded 26 overall blocks as well this year. Heldman finished her final year at New Hampshire with a team-leading 13 double-doubles. She was named the Setter of the Week three times this season.

Slaughter, a 6-1 middle blocker, immediately made an impact for the Seawolves this year, helping to lead them into the America East Championship. The rookie led the team, and ranked sixth in America East, with 71 total blocks (0.80 bps). She recorded a career-high six blocks in a five-set win over conference foe UMBC on November 7, and totaled five blocks on three other occasions this year. Slaughter, who averaged 1.87 kills per set, also ranked among the America East leaders in hitting percentage. She finished fifth in the conference with .243 hitting overall, and recorded .326 hitting in conference matches to rank third in the league.

Ferguson just finished his sixth season as Hartford’s head coach, his most successful season with the Hawks. Hartford finished with a 3-8 America East record, including a win over regular-season champion Albany, and was arguable the most improved team in the conference from 2009 to 2010. Ferguson coached two of his players to all-conference honors, the first year since 2003 the Hawks have had multiple all-conference recipients, as well as an all-rookie selection.

Coppiellie and Binghamton University senior outside hitter Michelle McDonough (Orland Hills, Ill./Andrew) are both repeat selections to the first team. They’re joined by Albany middle blocker Casey Wright (Ballston Spa, N.Y./Ballston Spa), Binghamton outside hitter Anna Lejina (Riga, Latvia/Riga Secondary), UMBC outside hitter Sabrina Hoeks (Olympia, Wash./AG West Black Hills), and Stony Brook middle blocker Ashley Headen (Alexandria, Va./St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes) ad swing hitter Alicia Nelson (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview).

Gonzalez and Heldman are both also repeat second-team selections and are joined by Hartford setter Lindsay Ford (Carson, Nev./Carson), outside hitter Kami Nethersole (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y./Hendrick Hudson), UMBC setter Allie Spaay (Kenosha, Wis./Kenosha Tremper), New Hampshire outside hitter Amy Keding (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) and Providence College middle blocker Lauren Fletcher (Syracuse, N.Y./Marcellus).

On the all-rookie squad along with Slaughter are Binghamton libero Xiomara Ortiz (South Setauket, N.Y./Ward Melville), Hartford outside hitter Dionna Kirton (Everett, Wash./King’s), UMBC outside hitters Hallie Carter (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison) and Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin Collegiate), New Hampshire right side hitter Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich./Notre Dame Prep), and Stony Brook swing hitter Kaitlin Costello (Webster, N.Y./Our Lady of Mercy).

The America East Volleyball Championship begins Friday, November 19 at University at Albany’s University Gym. Second-seeded Binghamton and third-seeded UMBC play in the first semifinal on 4 p.m., while the top-seeded Great Danes will take on fourth-seeded Stony Brook in the second semifinal at 7 p.m. The winners will play for an automatic NCAA Championship berth and the league title on Saturday, November 20 at 7 p.m.
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