After leading Eastern to a winning Big Sky season and spot in the postseason, pair of junior outside hitters recognized by league coaches
In her first year back on the court after redshirting the 2010 season, junior Cora Kellerman of the Eastern Washington University volleyball team made an undeniable impact. In a vote of the league's head coaches, the 6-foot-0 outside hitter was one of six elite athletes named to the esteemed All-Big Sky Conference First Team, which was announced Thursday (Nov. 24) by the league office. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own student-athletes.
Fellow junior, Shelby Puckett, earned a spot on the second team, which marked the second year in a row the Latah, Wash., native was recognized by the conference. Puckett was an All-Big Sky Honorable Mention selection in 2010.
"Our entire Eagle volleyball family is extremely happy and excited that both Cora and Shelby have been feted with BSC recognition," said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. "We have leaned heavily on them all year, and a large measure of our success this season can be seen through their play on the court and their overall impact on our program."
During the 2011 campaign, Kellerman was twice selected as a Big Sky Player of the Week. She was among the top five hitters in the conference throughout the year, averaging 3.14 kills per set and 3.41 points. She also averaged 2.82 digs and tallied 42 total blocks during the season.
Kellerman registered nine double doubles in her junior campaign, and had four 20+ kill outings. She posted a career-high 25 kills in a thrilling five-set victory over Montana (Oct. 28), and had a career-high 20 digs in another five-set win against Boise State (Aug. 31).
Kellerman's 25 kills against the Grizzlies was the third-best offensive performance of any player in the Big Sky this season.
Puckett had another successful season with the Eagles, as she finished seventh in the league in kills, averaging 3.02 per set. With exception of one match, which she had to sit out due to a minor ankle injury, the 5-11 lefty played nearly every rotation for the Eagles in the 2011 campaign.
She tallied 10 double-doubles, and had 18 matches with 10+ kills. She set a career-high 22 kills against Boise State (Aug. 31), and picked up a career-high 18 digs in a crucial win at Northern Arizona (Nov. 31) that helped Eastern earn one of four coveted spots in this year's Big Sky Conference Championship.
Puckett also had 70 blocks and 25 service aces throughout the year, which was the second-most on the Eagle squad. Her points per set average of 3.54 ranked sixth overall in the conference.
"We are extremely excited that with all the success Cora and Shelby had this year that we get to enjoy both of them again for their senior seasons in 2012," said Kydd.
Led by Kellerman and Puckett, the Eagles will look to keep their season alive tonight when they play top-seeded Northern Colorado in the semifinals of the 2011 Big Sky Conference Championship. First serve from the Peter W. Stott Center in Portland, Ore., is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Pacific time.
Along with Kellerman and Puckett, Eastern's senior libero Lindsey Petroni, sophomore setter Lindsay Niemeier and freshman middle blocker Talia Fermantez were among the statistical leaders in the Big Sky Conference this season.
"I would be remiss if I failed to recognize our senior libero Lindsey Petroni and our sophomore setter Lindsay Niemeier," added Kydd.
"Lindsey [Petroni] had a fantastic senior season, setting school digging records and putting her name among the great liberos to wear an Eagle uniform. And Lindsay Niemeier proved to be among the Big Sky's top servers, as well as defensive players."
This year, Petroni became the all-time school record holder for the most 30-dig matches in a career at seven, which includes four this season. With at least one more match to play, Petroni has tallied 816 total digs in her tenure, for an impressive 3.47 digs per set average, which ranks as the fourth-best career digging average in school history.
Niemeier tallied 17 double-doubles this season to lead the Big Sky Conference. She averaged 2.61 digs per set - the most for any setter in the Big Sky. She also registered a team-leading 34 service aces, which ranked second overall in the league.
"I also want to take the opportunity to recognize the contributions of three freshmen who played a lot for us this year," said Kydd. "Talia Fermantez, Amanda Brown and Kelsey Julian all played well in their first year in our program and we are excited to see them grow over the coming seasons."
Fermantez averaged 1.59 kills per set on a .268 attack percentage, which ranked fourth overall in the BSC. She also tallied 80 total blocks - the second-most on the squad.
Brown led the team in blocking with 86 on the year, which was also among the top 10 in the league. As a rookie, Julian started 26 of 27 matches in the regular season, averaging 0.94 kills and 0.64 blocks.