HARRISONBURG, Va., Dec. 19, 2011 – James Madison volleyball redshirt junior outside hitter Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) was named the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) University Division State Player of the Year on Monday. Abel was also named First Team All-State in a vote of the state’s Sports Information Directors.
“I could not be more excited for Natalie,” JMU head volleyball coach Lauren Steinbrecher said. “She is one of the hardest working, most mentally tough athletes I have had the opportunity to coach. You could not ask for a better teammate or a more humble athlete. We are so proud to have Natalie as a JMU Duke.”
Abel adds the Player of the Year honor to her First Team All-Colonial Athletic Association honor from 2011. She led the Dukes in kills with 350 and was second on the team with 376 digs. Her 376 digs was the 10th-most for a single season by a Duke in school history. She added 37 assists, 36 blocks, and 27 aces while averaging 2.97 kills per set on .227 hitting. She currently ranks tenth in school history in career digs (982) and third in digs per set (3.19).
During the season, Abel was named the CAA Offensive Player of the Week three times and was twice named a CVU.com National Top Performer of the Week honorable mention. She was the tournament MVP of the JMU Days Inn Invitational, as well as the High Point Classic. Against Davidson in the High Point Classic, the Washington, Pa., native set a career-high with 30 digs in a four-set win.
Abel is the second player in team history to be named the State Player of the Year, joining Lindsay Collingwood (1996-99) from 1999. She is the 12th player since 1997 to be voted to the All-State First Team.
In 2011, JMU went 20-11 overall and 8-6 in CAA play. The posted back-to-back 20-plus win seasons for the first time since 1999-2000 and won their first CAA tournament game since defeating William & Mary in 2007.
Joining Abel as major award winners is Radford’s Emma Deininger as the State Rookie of the Year and Liberty’s Shane Pinder as the Coach of the Year. The remainder of the All-State First Team includes Virginia’s Simone Asque, Virginia Tech’s Cara Baarendse, VCU’s Kristin Boyd, Radford’s Rachel Brummitt and Liberty’s Loren Thomas. Virginia and Liberty each placed two players on the second team while VCU and Radford had one each.
2011 VaSID University Division All-State Volleyball Team
Player of the Year: Natalie Abel, James Madison
Rookie of the Year: Emma Deininger, Radford
Coach of the Year: Shane Pinder, Liberty
Natalie Abel, r-Jr., OH, James Madison
Simone Asque, Sr., OH, Virginia
Cara Baarendse, Jr., MB, Virginia Tech
Kristin Boyd, Jr., OH, VCU
Rachel Brummitt, Fr., L, Radford
Loren Thomas, Jr., MB, Liberty
Cecilia Aragao, Fr., S, VCU
Emma Deininger, Fr., MB, Radford
Lillie Happel, So., OH, Liberty
Kelly Haseman, Sr., L, Liberty
Jessica O’Shoney, Jr., MB, Virginia
Beth Wildermuth, Jr., S, Virginia
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