Wicinski, Hoffman net All-American honors

Wicinski is first Huskie to make an AVCA All-American Team

Lauren Wicinski

Lauren Wicinski

Northern Illinois volleyball’s Lauren Wicinski (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) and Kristin Hoffman (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) were named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-American list, the organization announced Wednesday.

“It’s always been a dream of ours to be a regional program with national recognition,” said NIU Head Coach and 2011 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year Ray Gooden, who has coached all four of the program’s All-Americans.

“Over the past couple of seasons, especially this year, we have put ourselves into that conversation, which is great not only for our program but for our department. So much of that comes from our support from Athletics Director Jeff Compher and the NIU community.”

Just last week, the teammates were the first-ever Huskie duo and first MAC duo since 1994 to be named to the AVCA All-Mideast Region First Team. Now, they are the first teammates in NIU and MAC history to earn All-American status.

“This recognition for Lauren and Kristin continues to put a mark on what has been a special season,” Gooden said of the dynamic duo that led the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament and MAC regular season title for the first time since 2001.

“Both of them have done such amazing things individually with statistics and level of commitment. It’s a direct result of the team’s success.”

Wicinski garnered a Third Team All-American nod from the AVCA, becoming the first Huskie to make a team. With her honorable mention last year, she also is the first in NIU and MAC history to receive All-American recognition twice in a career, let alone in the first two years.

During her second straight Player of the Year campaign, Wicinski collected five MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week awards, led the NCAA in points (6.18/set) and kills (5.34/set), and ranked third in aces (0.57/set). Becoming the 18th member of NIU’s 1,000 Kill Club, she needed just 54 matches to reach the milestone faster than anyone in MAC history.

Wicinski ended the season with career highs in points, kills, hitting percentage (.302), aces, and digs (2.65/set). She finished with six matches with 20 or more kills and a .350 or better hitting percentage; 16 matches with 20 or more kills; 19 matches with two or more aces; 17 double-doubles; 14 matches with multiple blocks; and had 39 kills with a .484 hitting percentage in 3-1 win at Toledo.

Kristin Hoffman

Kristin Hoffman

Hoffman received an honorable mention nod from the AVCA.

The senior setter captained the offense well enough to become the first Huskie ever to win MAC Setter of the Year. The two-time Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District 5 first team selection was also a first team All-MAC choice for the second straight season.

Hoffman led the country in assists (12.27/set) and ran an offense that led the NCAA in ranked first in kills (15.02/set) and ranks seventh in hitting percentage (.279). During the season, she notched her 4,000th career assist, becoming the third player in Huskie history to achieve the milestone.

She ended the season with a career high in assists, and tied her career highs in aces (28) and digs (260). She finished with 23 matches with 40 or more assists; six matches with 50 or more assists; two matches with 60 or more assists; and 10 double-doubles.

The AVCA All-America Teams are comprised of three 14-player units, and include 82 players on the honorable mention list.

As part of the honor of being an All-American, Wicinski will travel to San Antonio, Texas, this weekend to be recognized at the AVCA All-America/Players of the Year Banquet presented by Zamst on Friday, Dec. 16, in conjunction with the 2011 AVCA Convention.

For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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