A Northern Illinois volleyball-record five Huskies received Academic All-Mid-American Conference recognition, the league announced Thursday.
Seniors Kristin Hoffman (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) and Allison McGlaughlin (Morton, Ill./Morton) and sophomore Lauren Wicinski (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) made the 18-person Academic All-MAC Team. Junior Mary Kurisch (La Crosse, Wis./West Salem) and sophomore Justine Schepler (Sycamore, Ill./Sycamore) received honorable mention status.
“With all the wonderful and positive things that our team was able to achieve in 2011, I feel that this honor shows the true meaning of our team and how committed the have been, not only on the court, but more importantly in the classroom,” said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden. “Our team takes a lot of pride in their academic success within the department, conference, and nation.”
The five honorees top the previous high of three in 2009 and rounds out the careers of Hoffman and McGlaughlin perfectly for the award.
Both earned the honor in 2009 and 2010 but were not eligible for the honor during their rookie season as no first-year students or junior college transfers can receive the accolade. The two are the only in program history to garner the league’s academic honor three times in a career
Among the league, they are the second pair of teammates to be recognized three times (Ball State’s Stephanie Keller and Sarah Obras, 2003-05) and the 15th and 16th individuals overall.
A history major with a 3.970 GPA, Hoffman captained the NIU offense to its first NCAA Tournament appearance and MAC regular season title for the first time since 2001. Leading the NCAA in assists (12.27/set), Hoffman became the first Huskie ever to win MAC Setter of the Year. She also earned Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District 5 first team and All-MAC first team selections for the second straight season.
Hoffman 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.
McGlaughlin was the second leading point scorer and was a second team All-MAC performer for the third of her career in 2011. 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.
The elementary education major with a 3.966 GPA ends her career with a career-high .200 hitting percentage and ranked second on the team in points (3.09/set), kills (2.86/set), and digs (2.70/set).
Schepler started 33 of NIU’s 35 matches as a defensive specialist and ranked fourth on the team in digs. An accountancy major with a 3.806 GPA, she ended the season with career highs in assists (0.22/set) and digs (2.32/set). Posted 10 matches with 10 or more digs, including a career-high 19-dig effort at Western Michigan on Nov. 10.
Kurisch, a math education major with a 3.419 GPA, led NIU in blocks. As a first team All-MAC selection, she ranked 114th in the country in hitting percentage (.321) and sixth in the MAC. She finished a stellar season with career highs in points (3.03/set), kills (2.28/set), aces (0.18/set), digs (0.64/set), and blocks (0.87/set).
An education major with a 3.419 GPA, Wicinski was the team’s leading point-scorer. She teamed with Hoffman to give the Mid-American Conference its first pair of teammates selected to an AVCA All-Region Team for the first time since 1994, and first time ever in NIU history. Wicinski is the first Huskie to earn the AVCA accolade twice in a career and is just the eight to do so in MAC history. She is also the first player in MAC history 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.
The Academic All-MAC honor is for a student-athlete who has excelled in athletics and academics. To qualify, a student-athlete must have at least a 3.20 cumulative GPA and have participated in at least 50 percent of the contests for that particular sport.
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie gymnastics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.