Four Earn AVCA Northeast Region Honors

Chelsea Heier is the AVCA Division I Northeast Region Freshman of the Year.

Dec. 8, 2011

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MILWAUKEE – Marquette University head coach Bond Shymansky was named the Division I Northeast Region Coach of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, while freshman setter Chelsea Heier was named the region’s freshman of the year.

In addition to freshman of the year honors, Heier was named AVCA All-Northeast Region, as were teammates Danielle Carlson, a junior middle hitter, and senior outside hitter Ciara Jones.

The 14-member team was selected by the Northeast Region postseason awards committee on Monday afternoon and all selections will move on to AVCA All-America balloting, the results of which will be announced on Wednesday, Dec. 14 by the AVCA.

The Golden Eagles ended their season in the second round of the NCAA tournament with a loss to national No. 3-seed Illinois in Champaign, Ill. The trip to Marquette’s first NCAA Championship included the program’s first victory in tournament play and its first over a ranked opponent, a 3-1 win over No. 24 Western Kentucky in the first round.

Marquette won a program-record 24 matches in 2011, while also topping last season’s 11-3 record in BIG EAST Conference play with a 12-2 mark in 2011.

Shymansky, the 2011 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, is 65-31 in his three-year tenure at Marquette, which accrued a record of just 37-49 in the three years prior to his arrival. He also was named the AVCA Division I East Region Coach of the Year in 2004 after leading Georgia Tech to a perfect 16-0 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“It is a really deep honor for me considering where we came from and where we have gotten to,” Shymansky said. “Everybody in our profession works so hard to do their best and give their best to their program. It is a great honor to be recognized by my peers, but I also know we all would trade individual honors in in a heartbeat for a BIG EAST regular season or tournament championship or an NCAA title.

Heier earns region freshman of the year honors after claiming the 2011 BIG EAST Freshman of the Year award and leading the league in assists per set with 11.89. The San Clemente, Calif., native earned five BIG EAST Freshman of the Week nods during the season and notched a career-high 64 assists in the semifinals of the BIG EAST tournament against eventual league champion, Cincinnati.

“Chelsea’s volleyball IQ is just so high and she had a great court presence,” Shymansky said of his first-year setter. “She never looked flustered and was always a steady leader for her teammates. The biggest thing for her is that she really grasped the strategy, the concepts, and she was really able to put them into play.”

Jones, an inspirational team leader and devastating athlete, earns all-region recognition for the first time in her career after leading the Golden Eagles with 3.59 kills per set. The Orlando, Fla., native stepped up with a career-high 24 kills against then-No. 9 Minnesota on Sept. 18 and notched 17 kills against both Cincinnati in the BIG EAST semis and No. 24 Western Kentucky in the NCAA First Round.

“Jones’ success is really her own,” Shymansky said. “Her biggest transformation really came between her ears, not between the antennae on the net. She has grown up a lot both as a person and as a competitor and became a go-to leader on our team. We gave her a little bit of training and a little bit of pushing when we needed to, but she really had a clear purpose in her mind by the time she was a senior. I have a high regard for her accomplishments.”

Carlson, a team co-captain along with Jones, made the transition from right-side hitter to middle hitter during the offseason and led the BIG EAST with a hitting percentage of .385, a mark that ranks 17th in the NCAA. The native of Marshfield, Wis., is Marquette’s career leader with a .338 hitting percentage.

“People were curious how we would replace (2010 AVCA All-American) Rabbecka Gonyo and we could just see in Danie that she had the speed, the ability, the size and the movement,” Shymansky said of Carlson’s transition to the middle.

“She had the little extra grit to get it done when we needed it done. She was a go-to hitter for us who we could count on to get us points when we needed them most. She is a great person with a wonderful spirit and soul to her and she got to the point where she could demand the ball. She knew that she could really help our team win and she was really willing to give everything she had to that cause.”

The AVCA’s Northeast Region includes universities from the BIG EAST, America East, Atlantic 10, Ivy League and Patriot League.

Ashley Beyer, Nikki Klingsporn and Rabbecka Gonyo all earned All-Northeast Region First Team honors in 2010 and became the first All-Americans in Shymansky’s tenure at Marquette. The trio from 2010 joined the only other first team all-region selections in program history, Jamie Mueller and Kim Todd, both of whom were selected in 2006.




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