Northern Illinois volleyball senior setter Kristin Hoffman (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) and sophomore outside hitter Lauren Wicinski (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) were chosen to the 2011 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I All-Mideast Region Team, the organization announced Tuesday.
The year 1994 is the last time a pair of teammates from the Mid-American Conference were selected to an AVCA All-Region Team, and the feat has never happened in NIU history before.
As the list’s lone representatives of the MAC and only Mideast Region choices outside of the Big Ten, the duo gives NIU its sixth and seventh all-time AVCA All-Region choices.
For Wicinski, the honor is her second straight as she garnered the accolade last year in her first season on campus. Hoffman receives the award for the first time in her career and is the second Huskie setter to ever be recognized (Jenny Bowman, 2001).
“I think it’s very special for Kristin and Lauren to be recognized, especially for the high level of volleyball we have in our region, being paired up with the Big Ten,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden, who has coached four of the Huskies’ seven all-time AVCA All-Region honorees.
“Having one [selection] is a really good thing, but having two is a great thing. It just continues to reflect how successful and positive this season was.”
Together, Hoffman and Wicinski played vital roles in NIU’s highly successful 2011 campaign that saw the Huskies reach the NCAA Tournament and win the MAC regular season title for the first time since 2001.
Wicinski is the first Huskie to earn the accolade twice in a career and is just the eight to do so in MAC history. She is also the first player in MAC lore to earn Player of the Year in each of her first two seasons, and is just the fifth MAC player to garner the honor in two straight seasons.
During her second straight first team All-MAC 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.
Hoffman 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 second 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-Region award is broken down by eight regions that each have a 14-member team. Because both Huskies are on an all-region team, they will be eligible to be selected Wednesday, Dec. 14, as AVCA All-Americans.