MACON, Ga. - Jacksonville's Sammie Strausbaugh was named the 2014 Atlantic Sun Volleyball Player of the Year, announced by the league office on Wednesday. North Florida's Cari Whitmire, Courtney Miller and FGCU's Gigi Meyer collected additional A-Sun individual honors.
Strausbaugh earns her first A-Sun Player of the Year award after leading the league in kills and kills per set. It marks the second-straight year that she has been a unanimous choice for the First Team All-Conference. Strausbaugh becomes Jacksonville's third A-Sun Player of the Year and first since Carrie Arango won in 1999. A three-time player of the week selection this year, Strausbaugh was the only player in the league to 500 total kills. Her 4.73 kills per set average also led the league. She ranks among the top-15 players in the NCAA in both categories.
North Florida's Cari Whitmire collects her first Defensive Player of the Year honor and second in UNF history. The senior libero was a defensive standout all season as she totaled 572 digs, the only player in the A-Sun with 500 or more. Her 4.81 digs per set average also topped the league this season. In conference play, Whitmire recorded 20 or more digs on 10 different occasions, including two matches of 30 or more. She was voted Defensive Player of the Week on three occasions. In addition, Whitmire earns First Team All-Conference honors for the first time in her career.
The first Setter of the Year award went to FGCU's Gigi Meyer. The senior setter led the league with 1,330 total assists and averaged 11.57 assists per set. Both of those numbers were the best in the conference. Meyer took her career total to 4,361 assists, which ranks her sixth on the A-Sun's career assist list. Meyer had 10 matches this year where she registered 50 or more assists including a season-high 68 in a win over North Florida in conference play.
Lipscomb head coach Brandon Rosenthal was voted A-Sun Coach of the Year for the second time in his career after leading the Lady Bisons to another regular season title this year. His team finished the regular season 13-1 in conference play and 20-7 overall. Rosenthal has led his team to 20 or more victories in the last eight seasons. His side led the league in several categories statiscally including kills per set & points per set. In conference play, the Lady Bisons stepped up to the challenge and led in hitting percentage, kills per set and total kills.
FGCU and Lipscomb tied for the most student-athletes voted to the All-Conference First Team. Outside hitter Elenora Kazarian and middle blocker Olivia Mesner picked up first-team honors for the first time. Mesner, a second-team selection last year, led the league in hitting percentage at .362, while Kazarian ranked third in the league in total kills.
Lauren Ford and Molly Spitznagle were voted to the All-Conference First Team, giving the Lady Bisons multiple members on the first team for a second-straight year. Ford was a model of consistency all year as she ranked second in the league in kills and kills per set. Spitznagle was a force through the middle as she led the team in total blocks with 92. She also ranked fourth in hitting percentage at .268.
Completing the All-Conference First Team was Northern Kentucky's Jenna Ruble, who becomes the second Norse player to earn first-team honors. Ruble, who was voted to the second team a year ago, was second in the league in hitting percentage at .345. She totaled 306 kills, the second-straight year she had 300 or more. She added 81 total blocks, which ranks second on the Norse.
Courtney Miller of North Florida was voted the A-Sun Freshman of the Year after completing a stellar opening season with the Ospreys. She led the team in total kills (328) and service aces (26). Her 328 kills led all A-Sun freshman this season. In conference play, she tallied six double-doubles, 10 for the whole season. Miller ranked second on the team in total digs with 278, averaging 2.48 digs per set. She won three A-Sun Freshman of the Week honors and hit .200 or better in 12 matches this season.
The 2014 A-Sun Volleyball Championship begins on Thursday, November 20 with first round matches between No. 4 Northern Kentucky and No. 5 Stetson at 5 p.m. ET. No. 3 Jacksonville takes on No. 6 North Florida at 7:30 p.m. ET. Fans can watch the entire A-Sun Volleyball Championship live on ESPN3.
All-Atlantic Sun First Team
OH - Elenora Kazarian, FGCU
MB - Olivia Mesner, FGCU
*OH - Sammie Strausbaugh, Jacksonville
*OH - Lauren Ford, Lipscomb
MB - Molly Spitznagle, Lipscomb
*DS/L - Cari Whitmire, North Florida
MH - Jenna Ruble, Northern Kentucky
* - Denotes a unanimous vote
All-Atlantic Sun Second Team
DS/L - Whitney Masters, FGCU
S - Gigi Meyer, FGCU
OH - Brittnay Estes, Lipscomb
OH - Sophie Kellerman, Lipscomb
S - Kayla Ostrom, Lipscomb
MH - Keely Creamer, Northern Kentucky
S - Taylor Snyder, Northern Kentucky
RS - Madison Akins, Stetson
- A tie in the voting led to a eight-person second team
All-Atlantic Sun Freshman Team
*OH - Anaiah Boyer, Kennesaw State
*S - Kristi Piedimonte, Kennesaw State
*OH - Courtney Miller, North Florida
OH - Mackenzie Allen, FGCU
MB - Olga Nushtayeva, Jacksonville
MB - Shelby Connors, Stetson
OH - McKenna Foster, Stetson
* - Denotes a unanimous vote