Northern Illinois volleyball freshman Lauren Wicinski added an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Mideast Region selection to her impressive list of accomplishments, the organization announced Tuesday.
“This is a very prestigious honor for Lauren and we are proud to have her represent the Huskie volleyball program and Northern Illinois University on a national level,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden of his second player to earn the AVCA award during his nine-year tenure. “[The Mideast] is one of the toughest regions in the country, being paired up with the Big Ten. For her to be recognized like this is quite an accomplishment.”
Already one of the most decorated Huskies ever, Wicinski becomes the seventh all-time NIU volleyball player to be recognized as an AVCA All-Region performer and the Mid-American Conference’s 31st. She is the first rookie to earn the honor in NIU and Mid-American Conference history.
Every year the AVCA designates 14 players from each of the eight regions across the United States. Among this year’s 112 honorees, Wicinski is one of only three freshmen to garner the accolade.
In the last three years, just nine freshmen have achieved AVCA All-Region status, and since 1999, 53 have done so. Joining Wicinski in the Mideast was the region’s Freshman of the Year, Penn State’s Deja McClendon. Of the 14 Mideast recipients, the 2010 MAC Player and Freshman of the Year is the only representative outside of the Big Ten, and the MAC’s only representative in any region.
The Geneva High School (Geneva, Ill.) product lived up to her billing as NIU’s first high school All-American and put together an incredible first season. She was NIU’s and the MAC’s first to win league player and freshman of the year awards in the same season. In doing so, she also was a First Team All-MAC and MAC All-Tournament selection.
Wicinski’s other awards include three all-invitational selections, including being chosen MVP of the Illinois-Chicago Invitational, and five MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week accolades, an NIU career record.
At the end of the NIU season, Wicinski’s statistical résumé glaringly stood out.
She led the nation’s freshmen and the MAC in points (5.63), kills (4.82) and aces (0.54); ranked among the nation’s leaders in points (fifth), kills (sixth) and aces (10th); her kill (636) and ace (71) totals rank second and fourth, respectively, on the NCAA’s all-time single season lists, third and second on NIU’s all-time single season lists, and fifth and 10th on the MAC’s all-time single season lists; she scored double figures in points in all 35 matches and tallied double figure kills in the last 34 matches; served up multiple aces on 17 occasions; totaled 16 kill-dig double-doubles; and notched multiple blocks in 16 matches.
With the fantastic freshman campaign, Wicinski is continuing her family’s legacy at Northern Illinois.
Her mother, Gina (Graf), was a Huskie standout on the court from 1983-87 and ranks in the program’s top-15 in aces, kills, points, solo blocks and digs. Her father, Rob, was an outstanding linebacker on the NIU football team from 1981-85 and was a key performer on the 1983 California Bowl championship team.
The all-region team is a prelude to the AVCA All-America Team, which will be announced Wednesday, Dec. 15.