Thursday, November 17, 2011

University of Albany's Laurie Gonzalez Earns Fourth Straight America East Volleyball Defensive Specialist of the Year Award - UAlbany Sports 2011

Cambridge, Mass. - Senior libero Laurie Gonzalez was named the America East Conference Volleyball Defensive Specialist of the Year for the fourth straight season, as announced by the league office on Thursday afternoon. Senior setter Brooke Stanley earned the third America East setter of the year award of her career, while classmate Casey Wright made her second appearance on the all-conference first team. Freshman Samantha Brostrom was also honored, earning all-rookie team accolades, and head coach MJ Engstrom earned her second coach of the year award.

Gonzalez became the first player in America East history to earn the defensive specialist of the year title for four consecutive years. A native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, Gonzalez became UAlbany's all-time digs leader this season, amassing 1,998 over four seasons. As a senior, she averages a league-best 5.30 digs per set, accumulating 488 in 27 regular-season matches. She is also second on the squad with 26 service aces this season.

Stanley, who returned to the court this season after missing 2010 with an injury, came back for the Great Danes in top form, earning her third setter of the year award. Stanley, who earned America East setter of the week honors five times this season, averaged a league-best 10.88 assists per set and also paced UAlbany with a team-high 32 service aces. Stanley, who currently owns three of the top ten single-season assist totals, will add another to the list after this season, as she has totaled 1,001 as a senior. She is also second on UAlbany's all-time assists chart with 4,747.

Wright makes her second straight appearance on the all-conference first team, after posting the league's top hitting percentage for the third consecutive season. Wright, who averages a team-high 3.35 kills per set, is hitting .391 on the season, and also averages a team-best 0.77 blocks per set. Brostom, an outside hitter, has made her presence known for the Great Danes as a rookie both offensively and defensively. The native of Ellicott City, Md. is second on the team with 2.74 kills per set and also averages 2.10 digs per set. She has posted 14 service aces and totaled 14 blocks, starting 22 of 24 matches played as a freshman.

Engstrom, in her third season as head coach of the Great Danes, earns her second coach of the year award. Engstrom, who previously served as an assistant coach for UAlbany, guided the Great Danes to their fourth straight America East regular-season title this season, as the team led the conference in four statistical categories. UAlbany looks to reach their fifth consecutive season with 20 or more wins, after going 19-8 overall and 11-1 in league play.

2011 America East Volleyball All-Conference Teams

First Team: Laurie Gonzalez, L, UAlbany; Brooke Stanley, S, UAlbany; Casey Wright, MB, UAlbany; Kami Nethersole, OH, Hartford; Amy Keding, OH, New Hampshire; Lauren Fletcher, MB, Providence; Alicia Nelson, OH, Stony Brook.

Second Team: Xiomara Ortiz, L, Binghamton; Alex Roland, MB, Binghamton; Dalton Tolliver, MB, UMBC; Jansan Falcusan, S, New Hampshire; Lauren Laquerre, OH, New Hampshire; Morgan Thatcher, RS, New Hampshire; Evann Slaughter, MB, Stony Brook.

All-Rookie: Samantha Brostrom, UAlbany; Kristin Hovie, Binghamton; Sareeta Nethersole, Hartford; Jackie Tamburri, Hartford; Hannah Schmidt, UMBC; Dalton Tolliver, UMBC; Laura Hathaway, Stony Brook.

Player of the Year: Alicia Nelson, Stony Brook

Setter of the Year: Brooke Stanley, UAlbany

Defensive Specialist of the Year: Laurie Gonzalez, UAlbany

Rookie of the Year: Dalton Tolliver, UMBC

Coach of the Year: MJ Engstrom, UAlbany

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