Northern Illinois volleyball sophomore outside hitter Lauren Wicinski (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year and senior Kristin Hoffman earned MAC Setter of the Year, as the league announced its regular season awards Thursday.
Additionally, five Huskies were named to All-MAC teams, which are the most selections NIU has had in its affiliation with the league and the most in the MAC since Ohio’s six selections in 2006.
Hoffman, Wicinski, and junior middle blocker Mary Kurisch (La Crosse, Wis./West Salem) all earned first team honors. The three first team honorees are the most NIU has had in the MAC and most in the league since Ohio’s four in 2009.
“It is an awesome accomplishment to have so many of our players get recognized by the conference for our team’s success,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “They’ve all had special seasons individually, which is why we’ve had such a good run so far this year.”
For Wicinski, she becomes the first player in MAC history to earn Player of the Year in each of her first two seasons, and is just the fifth player to garner the honor in two straight seasons (Ellen Herman from 2008-09 was the last). Only two other Huskies have garnered the honor before her – Jenny Bowman in 2001 and Kate McCullagh in 2006. She has also been a first team All-MAC choice in each of her first two campaigns.
“It’s amazing for Lauren to not only be Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year last year, but to repeat it as a sophomore is incredible,” Gooden said. “I’m incredibly, incredibly impressed with what she’s been able to do in her young career, and we can only hope she continues to blossom like this.”
The five-time 2011 MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week winner leads the nation in points (6.32/set) and kills (5.43/set), and ranks third in aces (0.60/set) – all tops in the MAC. Earlier in the year, Wicinski became the 18th member of NIU’s 1,000 Kill Club as she needed just 54 matches to reach the milestone faster than anyone in league history, doing so on Oct. 6 in a win versus Western Michigan. The sophomore standout is on pace to finish the season with career highs in points, kills, hitting percentage (.311), aces, digs (2.76/set), and blocks (0.44/set).
Hoffman is the first Huskie ever to win MAC Setter of the Year. She leads the country in assists (12.31/set) and captains an offense that leads the NCAA in kills (15.1/set) and ranks sixth in hitting percentage (.281) – both lead the MAC.
Two weeks ago in a win over Toledo, Hoffman notched her 4,000th career assist, becoming the third player in Huskie history to achieve the milestone. The two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District 5 First Team honoree is on pace to end the season with a career high in assists. Her first team selection is her second straight as well.
“For Kristin, it’s mission accomplished after three-plus years of hard work and dedication,” said Gooden. “It’s great to see her recognized for it.”
The NIU middles both earned their first career All-MAC selections.
Angelos ranks 30th in the nation and second in the MAC in hitting percentage (.363). She is on pace to complete the year with career marks for points (2.87/set), kills (2.51/set), digs (0.24/set), and blocks (0.55)/set.
Kurisch ranks 131st in the country in hitting percentage (.317) and seventh in the league. She too is looking at a career year with highs in points (3.06/set), kills (2.28/set), aces (0.18/set), digs (0.66/set), and blocks (0.90/set).
“Mary and Sarah are two of the best middles in the conference,” Gooden said. “Their ability to block and score consistently has really helped open things up for our pins.”
McGlaughlin’s second team accolade is the third of her career. Earlier in the season, she picked up her 1,000th career dig to become just the ninth in Huskie history to have over 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. She currently has a career-high .208 hitting percentage and ranks second on the team in points (3.17/set), kills (2.94/set), and digs (2.78/set).
“It’s great to see Allison honored again,” said Gooden. “She has been very consistent with her attacking and defense.”
The No. 1-seeded MAC regular season champion Huskies (25-5, 14-2 MAC) return to action at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, to face No. 8 Bowling Green (19-11, 6-10 MAC) in the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament at SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.