Albany, N.Y. University at Albany senior middle blocker Kamisha Kellam (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) was honored as the America East Volleyball Player of the Year Thursday night at the volleyball championship banquet in Albany, N.Y. Also from the Great Danes, sophomore Brooke Stanley (Hendersonville, N.C./West Henderson) garnered the league’s Setter of the Year honor and freshman libero Laurie Gonzalez (Carolina, Puerto Rico/St. Francis School) earned the Defensive Specialist of the Year award. UMBC outside hitter Alyssa Lang (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) was cited as the conference Rookie of the Year, while Glenn Kiriyama of Binghamton University captured the Coach of the Year trophy.

A two-time first-team All-Conference honoree, including this year, Kellam was a force for the Great Danes. As a team captain, she led her team on the court with high efficiency, hitting at a league-best .383 clip, and dominance at the net, with 101 blocks including 27 of the solo variety. In conference matches, Kellam’s numbers were even more impressive. Against America East foes, she smacked 2.78 kills per set at a .411 clip, and averaged one block per set. This is the fourth time in the last five years a Great Dane has received Player of the Year recognition.

Another member of the America East First Team, Stanley led the conference in assists throughout the season, averaging 10.51 per set. This sophomore, last year’s tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, averaged 10.85 assists in conference play and guided Albany to a league-high team hitting percentage of .277. Stanley could do more than just hand out assists, however, as she could also dig (2.30 dps), block (0.24 bps), attack (0.89 kps) and serve (0.31 aps). She also set a new conference all-time high for hitting percentage (.478) in conference matches.

Gonzalez is the first rookie to win the Defensive Specialist of the Year since it was added to the year-end awards in 2000, and only the second Great Dane to capture the award. The freshman averaged 4.08 digs per set overall, and 4.34 digs per set in conference action. Gonzalez ran a streak of 15 matches with double-digit digs between September 6 and October 11, and recorded a season-best 28 digs in a five-set match against Long Island University on September 27.

Lang, a second-team and all-rookie team selection, won an all-time conference high eight rookies of the week this year and led the Retrievers right out of the gate with two double-doubles in the opening weekend of play. She finished with 10 double-doubles during the regular season and averaged 2.85 kills and 2.82 digs per set. Lang’s service game was also strong, serving up 41 aces on the year and averaging 0.38 aces per set, fourth in America East.

Kiriyama is in the midst of his 10th season coaching the Binghamton program and received the Coach of the Year award for the second time in his career. He led the Bearcats to a 15-14 overall record and a 9-3 America East mark, along with the two seed for the upcoming America East Championship. Kiriyama’s team has finished second in the standings three of the last four years, made five straight conference postseason appearances, and won the championship in 2005. Binghamton was picked by the league’s head coaches to finish fourth in the preseason poll.

Joining Kellam and Stanley on the All-Conference First Team is last year’s Rookie of the Year, sophomore outside hitter Amanda Cowdrey (Brampton, Ontario/Cardinal Leger) from Albany, sophomore outside hitter Anna Lejina (Riga, Latvia/Univ. of Latvia), sophomore outside hitter Michelle McDonough (Orland Hills, Ill./Andrew) and sophomore setter Lindsey Mueller (West Bend, Wisc./West Bend West) from Binghamton, and senior outside hitter Lindsay Allman (St. Louis, Mo./Rockwood Summit) from University of Maine.

Gonzalez and Lang were both named to the second team, along with senior middle blocker Hillary White (Aberdeen, S.D./Colorado State) of Albany, sophomore middle blocker Bridget Scheetz (St. Louis, Mo./Ursuline Academy) from UMBC, junior right-side hitter Kirsten Bates (Calgary, Alberta/Bishop Carroll) and junior middle blocker Lindsay Fogarty (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley) of University of New Hampshire and senior outside hitter Gulce Nazli Dikecligil of Stony Brook University.

Joining Gonzalez and Lang on the All-Rookie Team was outside hitter Kalyn Mostert (Nepean, Ontario/Merivale) of Albany, setter Allie Spaay (Kenosha, Wisc./Kenosha Tremper) of UMBC, outside hitters Pauline Acres (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa) and Lauren Laquerre (Concord, N.H./Concord) of New Hampshire and setter Kelsey Sullivan (Hamilton, Va.) of Stony Brook.

Eleven of the all-conference first and second team honorees will be in action at University Gymnasium in Albany this weekend for the 2008 America East Volleyball Championship. Binghamton and UMBC, the two and three seeds, will get things started on Friday, November 21 at 4 p.m., while No. 1 Albany and No. 4 Maine play in the second semifinal at 7 p.m. The winners of the two semifinals will meet Saturday at 4 p.m. with the America East Championship crown and an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship on the line.