BOWLING GREEN, Ky.-Six Western Kentucky University volleyball players along with head coach Travis Hudson were among those honored by the Sun Belt Conference on Wednesday when the league announced its 2012 volleyball awards.
Hudson was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his 18-year tenure while junior Ashley Potts was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second-straight year. Potts along with senior Jordyn Skinner, redshirt junior Paige Wessel and junior Melanie Stutsman earned First-Team All-SBC honors. Sophomore Heather Boyan and freshman Noelle Langenkamp were selected to the second team.
WKU's six selections to the All-SBC teams is a league record and marks the third-straight year in which the Lady Toppers have had four or more honorees.
Hudson led the 2012 squad to a 29-3 overall record and 15-0 mark in league play, as the team only dropped one set to SBC opponents. He coached the team to its highest ranking in the AVCA Top 25 Poll at No. 17 and its longest stint in the top 25 at nine-consecutive weeks. With over 430 wins in his career at WKU, he is the leader of league wins among active coaches in the Sun Belt with 198.
Potts enjoyed another standout season at the libero position, posting double-digit digs in 30 of WKU's 32 matches this season. She is second in the league in digs per set, but her 4.52 digs per set in conference play leads all players. Her best performance of the season came at FIU on October 26, where she tallied a career-best 26 digs. A four-time Defensive Player of the Week winner this season, Potts becomes the first player in Sun Belt Conference history to win the award in back-to-back years and just the second player to win the award twice. This is the second all-league honor of Potts' career, as she was named to the Second-Team All-Conference in 2011.
Skinner earned her third-straight first-team honors with a team-high 310 kills while also recording 305 digs on the defensive end. Her 2.88 kills per set helps WKU rank in the top 30 nationally and her 23 solo blocks lead the Lady Toppers. Skinner adds another first-team honor to an already extensive resume, which includes being named an AVCA All-American and 2011 SBC Player of the Year.
Stutsman also captured her third-straight All-Conference honors courtesy of her 1,180 assists in 32 matches. Stutsman earned Freshman of the Year and a spot on the league's second team in 2010 and was named AVCA Honorable Mention All-American and First-Team All-Conference in 2011. During the 2012 campaign, Stutsman has set WKU to a .298 hitting percentage, a mark that ranks sixth nationally. She leads the Sun Belt in assists per set at 11.13 and ranks 31st nationally in the category. Stutsman has posted at least 30 assists in 80 percent of WKU's matches this season.
Wessel was a breakout player for the Lady Toppers from the outside hitter position, posting a league and team-best .385 hitting percentage to garner her first All-SBC accolade. Her hitting percentage ranks top 25 nationally. Wessel hit over .400 on 19 different occasions and recorded double-digit kills in 10 matches, including a career-high 17 against Arkansas State.
Boyan emerged as a dominant force this season, ranking first in the Sun Belt and on the team with a .424 hitting percentage and 143 kills during conference matches. Her presence in the middle led to a team-best 93 blocks, including a career-high 12 at Virginia. Her 289 kills this season trails only Skinner's 310.
Langenkamp's second-team accolade makes her the first freshman since Stutsman (2010) to earn All-SBC honors. She has tallied 162 kills on a .298 hitting percentage during her rookie campaign. She improved all of her stats during league play, as her hitting percentage increases to .392, which ranks third in the league. Langenkamp finished the regular season with 66 blocks, including a career-high seven against North Texas.
The team opens the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on Thursday, November 15 at 5 p.m. against eight-seeded FIU in E.A. Diddle Arena. Tickets are available at the WKU ticket office or by calling 1-800-5-BIG RED.
The complete list of Sun Belt Conference Awards, which were presented at a welcome banquet for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on Wednesday night, are listed below:
SBC First Team All-Conference
Edina Begic (UALR, Sophomore, OH)
Allison Kearney (Arkansas State, Senior, S)
Carnae Dillard (North Texas, Freshman, OH)
Courtney Windham (North Texas, Junior, OH)
Ashley Potts (WKU, Junior, DS)
Jordyn Skinner (WKU, Senior, OH)
Melanie Stutsman (WKU, Junior, S)
Paige Wessel (WKU, RS-Junior, OH)
SBC Second Team All-Conference
Megan Baska (Arkansas State, Junior, DS/L)
Marija Prsa (FIU, Senior, OH)
Mandi Gavin (Louisiana-Lafayette, Senior, S)
Chelsea Ross (Middle Tennessee, Freshman, OH)
Alexandra Alexander (Troy, Junior, S)
Blair Winston (Troy, Freshman, OH)
Heather Boyan (WKU, Sophomore, MH)
Noelle Langenkamp (WKU, Freshman, MH)
SBC Player of the Year: Edina Begic (UALR, Sophomore, OH)
SBC Defensive Player of the Year: Ashley Potts (WKU, Junior, DS)
SBC Freshman of the Year: Carnae Dillard (North Texas, Freshman, OH)
SBC Coach of the Year: Travis Hudson, WKU