Five Nittany Lions Earn AVCA All-America Honors
Dec. 18, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four Nittany Lions have been selected to the AVCA Division I All-America teams, with one more garnering honorable mention honors, as announced by the organization this morning. Senior Deja McClendon highlighted the entire group, as the only player in the 2013 class to be honored as a four-time AVCA All-American, earning a spot on the second-team. Senior Ariel Scott and junior Micha Hancock were both selected to the first-team, while senior Katie Slay was tabbed to the third-team. Junior Nia Grant rounded on the group as an honorable mention honoree.
The four selections marks the second consecutive year that Penn State has placed four Nittany Lions on one of the three teams and brings the program's total number of All-America honorees to 79 since 1979. Additionally, head coach Russ Rose has mentored at least one All-American in 34 of his 35 seasons at the helm of the program.
AVCA divides its All-America class into three 14-student-athlete teams (first, second and third), adding an additional honorable mention squad. The AVCA DI National Player of the Year will be selected on Dec. 20 at the AVCA All-America/Players of the Year Banquet presented by Northwestern Mutual.
McClendon is the fifth four-time All-American in Penn State history, joining Bonnie Bremner, Christa Harmotto, Nicole Fawcett and Megan Hodge in the elite group. McClendon recently earned her fourth Big Ten postseason award, earning a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team and a spot on the AVCA All-Northeast Region team.
She has previously been selected as the 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, having registered two consecutive All-Big Ten accolades from 2011-12. She's started all 34 matches at outside hitter this season and leads the team in kills with 356 on the year. McClendon also ranks second on the team in digs with 342 in 2013, averaging 2.87 per set. She's led the team in kills 11 times this season, while posting 11 double-doubles. Earlier this year, she notched her 1,000th career dig to eclipse the 1,000 career kills/1,000 career digs mark. She is the first Nittany Lion to reach the mark since Megan Hodge in 2009 and the fifth in program history. She recently hit the 1,500 career kills mark after tallying 11 kills at Minnesota.
Slay collected her third consecutive All-American honor, after being tabbed as a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team and an AVCA All-Northeast Region honoree. The 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year was also a member of the 2012 All-Big Ten team. The two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week also picked up one Big Ten Player of the Week accolade in 2013. She's amassed 252 kills on the year, posting a team-best .404 hitting percentage, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten and 21st nationally. Slay is at the helm of the Nittany Lion blocking unit with 200 total blocks on the year. Her 1.67 blocks per frame leads the conference and ranks third among all individuals in the nation. Earlier this season, Slay reached the 500 career blocks mark and has totaled 620 blocks in her career, which is good for sixth on the Penn State all-time list.
Scott also garnered her third consecutive All-American honor. In 2013, she earned a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team as well as a spot on the AVCA All-Northeast Region team. She also earned the Big Ten Player of the Year honor in 2012 and a spot on the All-Big Ten team in 2011. A finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, Scott ranks second on the team with 315 kills on the year, averaging a squad-best 3.18 kills per frame. She's posted double-digit kills in 18 matches this season, while leading the team in the category 15 times throughout the season. Totaling 26 multi-block performances, she closed out the regular-season ranked second on the team in blocks, averaging 0.85 per set. In 2012 she reached the 1,000 career kills milestone. Since then, she's added 352 more kills for a career total of 1,352, which ranks 14th in program history.
Hancock earned her second career All-America honor after picking up her third consecutive Big Ten Setter of the Year honor, as well as a spot on the All-Big Ten team. She also garnered AVAC All-Northeast Region honors. The 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year also earned the 2011 AVCA Mideast Freshman of the Year award. She's also earned a spot on either the All-Big Ten team or the Big Ten All-Freshman squad each year. The five-time Big Ten Setter of the Week in 2013 is the only recipient of the Big Ten's Setter of the Year award, having claimed the title in the last two years. Hancock has guided the Nittany Lion offense to a .306 hitting percentage in 2013, which ranks fifth in the nation and leads the Big Ten. She's paced two top attackers to .355 or better hitting on the year. Earlier this season, she set a new program record with her 237th career ace. Hancock leads the team with 76 aces on the year and her 0.63 aces per frame ranks second in the country and first in the league.
Junior Nia Grant earned her first AVCA All-America status, having been selected as an honorable mention honoree. Last week she picked up AVCA All-Northeast Region honors, marking the first postseason honor. The Warren, Ohio native has established herself as a key offensive weapon for the Nittany Lions, as she's ranked second on the team with a .358 hitting percentage and fifth on the squad averaging 1.78 kills per set. Her hitting efficiency ranks 57th nationally and fifth in the Big Ten conference.
No. 2 Penn State is set to square off against No. 3 Washington in the NCAA national semifinal match Thursday, Dec. 19 at 9:30 p.m. ET in KeyArena. The matchup will broadcast live on ESPN2.