Nov. 13, 2012
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - The four teams to qualify for the 2012 Patriot League Volleyball Tournament were well represented when the All-Patriot League Team and Major Awards were announced by the League office Tuesday afternoon.
Army senior outside hitter Ariana Mankus led the way as she was named the Player of the Year for the second time in her career, while earning her third placement on the All-League first team. She's joined by sophomore teammate Mary Vaccaro, who was named Setter of the Year and to the first team.
Lehigh junior Rachel Charles was named Libero of the Year and earned second-team All-League laurels, while Navy freshman setter Alex Karika was named Rookie of the Year. She took garnered placement on the second team.
Rounding out the trophies was Colgate's Ryan Baker, who was named Coach of the Year after guiding the Raiders to the regular season title and hosting responsibilities for the League tournament.
Twelve of the 14 student-athletes on the All-League squad and four of the five trophy winners are from tournament participants.
The All-League team and major honors were voted on by the League's eight head coaches, who could not cast a ballot for themselves or their own student-athletes.
A unanimous first-team All-League selection, Mankus leads the League in total kills (358) and kills per set (3.62) heading into this weekend's tournament. She's currently ninth hitting .248, and is eighth averaging 3.36 digs per set. She owns five of the League's top six total kill performances this season, including a season-high 30 in a five-set loss Nov. 2 at Colgate. The League's first simultaneous Player and Rookie of the Year in 2009, Mankus entered the League's all-time top 10 in kills and digs earlier this season. She heads into the tournament sixth all-time with 1,545 kills and seventh with 1,418 digs. Mankus is one of only two student-athletes to appear on both League top 10s, joining fellow Black Knight Deann Machlan (1992-95).
Vaccaro becomes the League's second back-to-back Setter of the Year and first since Maureen Bannon shared the award in 2006 and won it outright a year later. She ranks first in the League with 938 assists, while her assists-per-set average of 9.57 is second. She averaged 8.94 dishes per frame in 14 League contests. Vaccaro has eclipsed the 50-assist plateau in two matches this season, both four setters, including the regular season finale at Lehigh Saturday.
The Libero of the Year honor is in its second year, and Charles remains its only recipient after capturing the award in 2011 as a sophomore. She's one of two League players to reach 30 digs in a match this season, and she holds each of the top three single match tallies, with all of them coming during League play. Charles sits second in the League averaging 4.97 digs per set and second with 457 total. It's the third time in four years in which a Mountain Hawk has garnered the League's top defensive award, which includes Emma Melendez winning the Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.
Karika had a splendid season for Navy, leading the Mids to the biggest turnaround in League history. The freshman setter currently leads the League in assists per set (9.84) and is second in total assists (895). She tallied the best numbers of any setter during League play, averaging 10.38 dishes per frame while totaling 550 in 53 sets. Karika's two highest totals both came against League opponents, with a season-high 58 against Lehigh and 56 versus Bucknell, both five-set matches. In addition, she owns the League's three best assist totals for three-set contests. She's the sixth Mid recognized as the Rookie of the Year and first since Beth MacArthur in 2003.
Baker was named Coach of the Year for the second time in his career, first garnering the award in 2007. He guided the Raiders to a 12-2 mark in League play, including an undefeated run through the first leg, made all the more impressive in that five of those contests were on the road. Since beginning the season 1-10, the Raiders have gone 14-3 and sewed up their first tournament hosting gig since 1996. Earlier this season Baker, who is in his sixth year in Hamilton, N.Y., won his 100th match on the Raiders' sidelines.
Army and Colgate tied with a League-high four All-League selections. Junior outside hitter Margaux Jarka (278 kills, 2.81 kps, .172) and junior libero D.J. Phee (League-leading 557 digs and 5.63 dps) made the All-League second team from the Black Knights, while Colgate junior outside hitter Lindsay Young (302 kills, 2.88 kps, .199) earned first-team accolades. Junior libero Caitlin Cremin (430 digs, 4.02 dps), junior setter Kaylee Fifer (759 assists, 7.16 aps, 2.42 dps) and sophomore middle blocker Diane Seely (233 kills, 2.40 kps, .221, 83 blocks) were named to the second team.
American, Lehigh and Navy tied with two All-Leaguers apiece. Both of American's representatives were named to the first team in junior middle blocker Morgan Hendrix (1.74 kps, .312, League-best 131 blocks and 1.31 bps)and sophomore outside hitter/middle blocker Sara Rishell (281 kills, 2.96 kps, .222, 71 blocks). Rishell was the simultaneous Player and Rookie of the Year in 2011, and collected last year's Tournament MVP honor.
Lehigh and Navy split their two selections across the two teams. Lehigh senior middle blocker Taylor Poole (210 kills, 2.28 kps, .258, 82 blocks) joined Charles on the All-League squad with first-team recognition, along with Navy junior outside hitter Erin Fortner (292 kills, 3.36 kps, .191, 1.78 dps).
The 2012 Patriot League Volleyball Tournament takes place this Saturday and Sunday at Colgate's Cotterell Court in Hamilton, N.Y. The top-seeded Raiders will take on No. 4 seed Lehigh in Saturday's first semifinal at 3 p.m., while No. 2 American goes up against third seed Army at 6 p.m. Sunday's championship match will feature the semifinal winners at 3 p.m. The winner earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
2012 All-Patriot League Team and Major Awards
Player of the Year - Ariana Mankus, Army, Sr., OH
Setter of the Year - Mary Vaccaro, Army, So., S
Libero of the Year - Rachel Charles, Lehigh, Jr., L
Rookie of the Year - Alex Karika, Navy, Fr., S
Coach of the Year - Ryan Baker, Colgate
Morgan Hendrix, American, Jr., Opp./MB
Sara Rishell, American, So., OH/MB
Ariana Mankus, Army, Sr., OH
Mary Vaccaro, Army, So., S
Lindsay Young, Colgate, Jr., OH
Taylor Poole, Lehigh, Sr., MB
Erin Fortner, Navy, Jr., OH
Margaux Jarka, Army, Jr., OH
D.J. Phee, Army, Jr., L
Caitlin Cremin, Colgate, Jr., L
Kaylee Fifer, Colgate, Jr., S
Diane Seely, Colgate, So., MB
Rachel Charles, Lehigh, Jr., L
Alex Karika, Navy, Fr., S