Sara Pope (left) and Melissa Rigo earned Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors, respectively.
Sara Pope (left) and Melissa Rigo earned Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors, respectively.
Courtesy: America East Communications

Four Teams Represented in America East Volleyball Major Awards

Release: 11/15/2012

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A day before the 2012 America East Volleyball Championship begins at the University at Albany, the conference office announced the 2012 volleyball major award winners along with the all-conference and all-academic teams on Thursday. Four teams were represented among the major award winners, highlighted by two from No. 1 seed Albany. Great Dane sophomore Sara Pope was named Player of the Year, while junior Viktoriia Stroilo earned Defensive Specialist of the Year. UMBC’s Mallory McIntyre and Binghamton’s Amanda Dettmann were selected as Co-Setters of the Year, and Stony Brook freshman Melissa Rigo was a unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year. Binghamton head coach Glenn Kiriyama was named Coach of the Year. The voting was done by the league’s seven head coaches who were not permitted to vote for their own players.

Pope is the seventh Albany student-athlete in the last nine years to earn America East Player of the Year honors. The sophomore finished fifth in the conference in kills at 3.34 per set in all games, and was second in both hitting percentage (.317) and kills per set (4.14) in conference games only. Pope led Albany to its fifth-straight regular-season title and eighth in the last nine years. She registered double-digit kills 18 times, including 10 of the 12 America East conference games. She had 20 kills and a season-high .543 hitting percentage against UMBC on October 7.

Stroilo adds to the legacy of great Albany defensive specialists, becoming the fourth-straight Defensive Specialist of the Year after the graduation of four-time award-winner Laurie Gonzalez. Stroilo led the America East in digs per set with 5.35 per set in conference games and 5.22 per set in all games. She helped the Great Danes lead the conference in digs with 16.80 per set. The junior was in double-digit digs in all but two matches this year, including back-to-back matches of 30-plus digs against New Hampshire and Providence.

McIntyre and Dettmann were both named Setters of the Year, marking the first time in league history that their has been a tie for the award. UMBC’s McIntyre becomes the sixth Retriever to earn the honor after finishing second in the conference in assists per set at 9.81 in all matches, and first in assists per set in conference only matches (11.30). She also quarterbacked the UMBC offense to a conference-best .236 hitting percentage in conference matches. McIntyre had five double-doubles, most notably 59 assists and 15 digs in a win over Albany on November 2.

Dettmann led Binghamton to its highest hitting percentage in program history in America East play, helping the Bearcats finish first in the league with a .255 hitting percentage. She also led the league in assists, eclipsing the 1,000-assist mark with 1,099, ranking second in the league in assists per set with 10.91 in conference-only matches. Dettmann had a conference-best 16 double-doubles, and ranked 19th in digs at 2.41 per set. She ended the year on a streak of five-straight double-doubles, and notched a triple-double in the season finale at Stony Brook to clinch a playoff spot with Binghamton.

Rigo was a unanimous selection for Rookie of the Year after becoming the first freshman since Maine’s Leah Voss to lead the conference in kills and kills per set. The freshman had a total of 443 kills, averaging 4.52 per set for the year, almost a full kill more than her closest competition. Rigo joins teammate Evann Slaughter as the only Seawolves to be named Rookie of the Year. She was the only America East player to hit the 30-kill mark this season, doing so in a five-set match vs. Binghamton to end the year. She averaged better than six kills per set in the match. Rigo was very consistent for Stony Brook, notching double-digit kills in every match this season and finished with the highest kills per set average since fellow Seawolf Jackie Ahlers in 2007.

After missing the postseason for the first time since joining Division I, Binghamton head coach Glenn Kiriyama led the Bearcats to the No. 2 seed and earned his third America East Coach of the Year honor. Also earning the award in 2008 and 2005, Kiriyama guided Binghamton to an 8-4 mark in America East play. The Bearcats also had their highest hitting percentage since joining Division I, leading the conference with a .255 percentage.

Juniors dominated the All-Conference First Team, with five from the class being selected. Albany’s Pope was joined by teammate Gabby Whitworth. Stony Brook also had two selections in Rookie of the Year Rigo to go with 2010 Rookie of the Year Slaughter. Binghamton’s Grace Vickers, UMBC’s Mallory McIntyre and New Hampshire’s Morgan Thatcher.

Albany also placed two on the All-Conference Second Team in Victoria Stroilo and Traci Vandergrift. UMBC and Binghamton led the way with three selections each. The Retrievers had freshmen Sherelle Walker and Krystal Mlemchukwu to go with senior Ali Loynachan earn honors. Binghamton’s Dettmann was joined by Iva Partaleva and Alexandria Roland to round out the team.

Mlemchukwu and Walker also earned All-Rookie Team honors for UMBC. The All-Rookie Team was led by Stony Brook’s Rigo, who was a unanimous choice. The Seawolves’ Nicole Vogel also earned a spot. Albany middle blocker Tatum Jungsten, along with New Hampshire Tori Forrest and Brenna Buckwalther finished up the team.

Binghamton’s Vickers was the lone all-conference selection to be named to the All-Academic Team and was joined by teammate Jordyn Suhr. Hartford had three student-athletes elected to the All-Academic Team in Taylor McCreery along with Kami and Sareeta Nethersole. Stony Brook’s Greta Strenger earned a nod, and New Hampshire’s Jessie Schnepp was a unanimous pick.

For the fifth-straight year, America East selected the All-Academic teams using CoSIDA’s Academic All-America program as a model. Student-athletes worthy of consideration are nominated by member sports information directors and voted on by a committee of SIDs, academic advisors and faculty representatives from all nine member institutions.

All-Academic squads for team sports are based on the maximum number of athletes that participate in a contest at one time (e.g., 7 on the court in volleyball) but can be more if there is a tie in voting. To be nominated for the distinction, student-athletes must be a starter or important reserve for their team and participate in at least 50 percent of their team’s games or competitions. In the classroom, student-athletes must have a 3.30 GPA and have completed at least one calendar year at their institution. Freshmen are not eligible for consideration.

The 2012 America East Championship begins on Friday, Nov. 16 at University at Albany’s University Gym. No. 2 seed Binghamton will play No. 3 UMBC at 4 p.m., following by No. 4 New Hamsphire and No. 1 Albany. The championship game will be streamed live for free in HD on at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 17.

For a full list of the all-conference teams, click here