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Courtesy: JMUSports.com
Three Volleyball Players Garner All-CAA Recognitions
Courtesy:JMUSports.com Release:11/17/2011

NEWARK, Del., Nov. 17, 2011 – Three James Madison volleyball players were amongst the athletes recognized at the annual Colonial Athletic Association postseason volleyball banquet held Thursday night prior to the quarterfinals of the 2011 CAA Championships on the campus of the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., this weekend. 

Redshirt junior outside hitter Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) was named to the All-CAA First Team while junior outside hitter Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant) garnered Third Team recognitions. Redshirt freshman setter Kristi Richardson (Glen Allen, Va./Hermitage) joined five other freshman on the All-Rookie team. 

Abel adds the First Team All-CAA selection to her Third Team honor from 2010. She ended the regular season with a team-best 329 kills on .226 hitting while also adding 357 digs, 34 assists, 32 blocks and 26 aces. She was one of just four players in the conference to compile more than 300 kills and 300 digs. She averaged a team-best 2.99 kills per set and 3.25 digs per set and was the only player for Madison to play in all 110 sets this season. In conference-only action, the Washington, Pa., native averaged 2.87 kills and 3.22 digs per set. She was named the CAA Offensive Player of the Week three times and a CVU.com Honorable Mention Top Performer of the Week twice. 

Erb was named All-CAA for the third time in her career, combining Third Team honors in 2011 with a Third Team selection in 2009 and Second Team honors in 2010. She appeared in 27 matches, starting 22 of them. In 102 sets played, the Preseason All-CAA honoree had 247 kills, 250 digs, 37 blocks, 31 service aces and 24 assists. She averaged 2.42 kills and 2.50 digs while adding 2.76 kills and 2.65 digs per set in CAA play. 

Richardson is the eighth Duke in the last eight years to collect All-Rookie recognitions. She helped pace the JMU offense to a .217 attack percentage by collecting 584 assists, adding 95 kills, 78 digs, 63 blocks, and seven service aces. She averaged 5.41 assists per set and hit a team-best .274. On Nov. 5 against George Mason, she became the first Duke since Emilee Hussack (2002-05) to pick up a triple-double, finishing with 50 assists, 18 digs and 11 kills in a 3-2 win over the Patriots. 

Towson’s Katy Buck was voted the CAA Player of the Year while her head coach, Bruce Atkinson, was named the conference’s Coach of the Year. Buck is the second Tiger to be named Player of the Year after averaging 4.08 kills per set and 4.34 points per set. Atkinson was named the Coach of the Year in just his second season at the helm. He led the Tigers to the CAA Championships for the first time since 2008 and their most wins since 2005. 

Delaware’s Renee Tomko was voted the conference’s Setter of the Year while Northeastern’s Natalia Skiba and Jillian Briner were voted the Defensive Specialist and Rookie of the Year, respectively. 

Delaware led all teams with four All-CAA selections, including two on the First Team. Joining Abel, Buck and Tomko on the All-CAA First Team were Delaware’s Alissa Alker, Northeastern’s Janelle Tucker and Georgia State’s Vineece Verdun. 

The quarterfinals of the CAA Championship are set to begin at 4 p.m. on Friday with third-seeded Towson taking on sixth-seeded VCU at the Carpenter Sports Building in Newark, Del. Fifth-seeded JMU and fourth-seeded Georgia State will square off at 7 p.m. in the other quarterfinal. Semifinals are set to begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday with the Championship game set for 5 p.m. on Sunday. 

(Selected by CAA Volleyball Coaches)

2011 CAA Player of the Year: Katy Buck, Towson
2011 CAA Setter of the Year: Renee Tomko, Delaware
2011 CAA Defensive Specialist of the Year: Natalia Skiba, Northeastern
2011 CAA Rookie of the Year: Jillian Briner, Northeastern
2011 CAA Coach of the Year: Bruce Atkinson, Towson

First Team
(Player, School, Class, Position, Hometown/High School)

Natalie Abel, JMU, r-Jr., OH, Washington, Pa./Trinity
Alissa Alker, Delaware, Jr., OH, San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch
Katy Buck, Towson, So., OH, Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales Academy
Renee Tomko, Sr., S, Jefferson Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson
Janelle Tucker, So., OH, Encino, Calif./Campbell Hall
Vineece Verdun, Sr., MB, Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Andover

Second Team
Kristin Boyd, VCU, Jr., OH, Wilmington, N.C./John T. Hoggard
Courtney Hott, VCU, Sr., MB, Fredericksburg, Va./Courtland
Aubrey Kirven, Towson, Jr., S, Uniontown, Ohio/Lake
Christi Laite, UNCW, So, RS, Severna Park, Md./Severna Park
Chelsea Lawrence, Delaware, Jr., MH, Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township
Natalia Skiba, Northeastern, Fr., L, Westmont, Ill./Hinsdale Central

Third Team
Kelly Bacon, Northeastern, So., OH, Temecula, Calif./Temecula Valley
Danielle Erb, JMU, Jr., OH, Tampa, Fla./Plant
Muki Kangwa, Georgia State, Sr., OH, Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers
Nichole Kurz, Northeastern, So., MH, San Diego, Calif./Patrick Henry
Kylee Maneja, Hofstra, Jr., L/OH, Kapolei, Hawai’i/Sacred Hearts Academy
Kim Stewart, Delaware, Sr., OH, Kentwood, Mich./East Kentwood
Lana Zonjic, George Mason, So., OH, Zagreb, Croatia/II Gimnazjia Zagreb

Cecilia Aragao, VCU, Fr., S, Recife, Brazil/Colegio Contato
Jillian Briner, Northeastern, Fr., S/OH, Oak Park, Ill./Oak Park & River Forest
Kristi Richardson, JMU, r-Fr., S, Glen Allen, Va./Hermitage
Paige Sekerak, Towson, Fr., DS, Montgomery Village, Md./Poolesville
Natalia Skiba, Northeastern, Fr., L, Westmont, Ill./Hinsdale Central
Kelsie Wills, Hofstra, Fr., OH, Matamata, New Zealand/Matamata College

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