Volleyball nets fifth AVCA academic award

Huskies among 130 Division I schools honored by national coaches

Go Huskies! NIU volleyball players surround Kayla Zeno (8) in celebration.The Northern Illinois volleyball team has earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Team Academic Award for the fifth consecutive season, the organization announced Thursday.

“It’s wonderful for our volleyball student-athletes to be recognized for their efforts in the classroom,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “It helps us stay true our mission of being champions in the classroom, in competition and in life. We thank the AVCA for the award.”

The team finished with a cumulative 3.477 GPA. Four members of the team notched a perfect 4.0 in 2012-13, while six more players recorded a GPA of 3.0 or higher during the year.

In 2012, the Huskies remained as one of the Mid-American Conference’s top programs by recording a 21-15 record, 10-6 in conference, and advancing to the MAC title match for the third consecutive season.

Individually, Sarah Angelos, Mary Kurisch and Amber Walker all earned All-MAC nods, while Alexis Gonzalez was picked for the All-Freshman Team. Gooden also collected accolades of his own by being named the MAC Coach of the Year for the second straight season and the third time in his career. In the classroom, three Huskies were named to the Academic All-MAC team and five more earned honorable mention.

Ray Gooden

Ray Gooden

The award, which was initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale.

The AVCA Team Academic Award has become one of the AVCA’s fastest growing awards programs, seeing an impressive surge in teams honored over the past several years.

Since the 2000-2001 season, the number of recipients has increased every single year but one, while amassing an overall 300 percent increase over the span of the last decade. Since the award’s inception in 1993, the amount of award winners has increased from 62 to its current number of 622.

NCAA Division I recorded their highest-ever total number of recipients, honoring 130 programs while Division II surpassed last year’s record of 69 winners with 77 this year. Division III also set a new record with 93 winners and the high school division increased their all-time high of 220 recipients to 253.

Finally, the NAIA set a new record with 46 winners garnering the award.

More than 1,000 different schools have earned the award in the program’s 20-year history, with exactly 5,450 awards been given out in total.

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

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