LOCK HAVEN, Pa. (Nov. 19) – Junior middle hitter Ludmila Amaral (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Afonso Schimidt) headlined a group of six Vulcan players that earned All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division First and Second Team honors, released the league office on Wednesday. Amaral became the first player in recent school history to earn PSAC West Athlete of the Year.
Joining Amaral as first-team selections were junior setter Renata Silva (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Colegio Ateneu), senior middle hitter Thais Franca (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Padre Manoel De Paiva) and junior outside hitter Joanna Nist (Rockwood, Pa./Rockwood).
The California University of Pennsylvania volleyball team won its second-straight PSAC Championship last week and enters the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Region. The Vulcans are ranked No. 17 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top 25 Coaches’ Poll and lead the country with a .974 winning percentage (37-1).
Amaral ranks second in the league and is among the national leaders in both kills and hitting percentage. The 6-1 junior ranks third in the country with a .431 attack percentage, while averaging 3.67 kills per set. She has amassed a team-best 466 kills, which ranks sixth in single-season school history. Amaral also leads the team with 138 blocks to rank fifth in program history.
Silva is second in the conference and No. 23 in the nation with an average of 10.79 assists per set. A third-team All-American last year, she has shattered the school record for career assists and enters this weekend’s NCAA Atlantic Regional Tournament with 4,138 career assists. Silva is a three-time All-PSAC player, including two first-team selections.
After battling injuries throughout the season, Franca is averaging 2.14 kills and 0.80 blocks per set. The senior Brazilian has registered 210 kills on a .264 hitting percentage in 2008.
Nist continues her climb in the career record books at Cal U, ranking among the all-time leaders in both kills and digs. The 5-10 outside hitter ranks third in the conference with 3.56 kills per game and could become only the second player in school history to register 500 kills twice in a career. Nist also is second on the team with 335 digs (2.62 per set) this year.
Junior libero Marta Hodge (Fayetteville, Pa./Chambersburg) and freshman middle hitter Bridget Bielich (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) represented the Vulcans on the All-PSAC West Second Team. Hodge leads the conference and ranks No. 10 in the nation with 5.58 digs per set. The 5-4 libero recently broke her own single-season school record with 697 digs this year and is within reach of breaking the career record for digs.
Bielich made an immediate impact in her first year with the program. The 6-1 middle hitter ranks fourth in the PSAC with a .360 hitting percentage behind 194 kills on 392 total attacks. Bielich also is among the team leaders with 72 blocks. The Vulcans led the PSAC West with four first-team selections and led the entire 14-team conference with six total players recognized on the two squads.
Cal U hosts the NCAA Atlantic Regional Tournament, beginning today, Thursday, Nov. 20 at Hamer Hall. The eight-play tournament starts at 12 p.m. before the top-seeded Vulcans face eighth-seeded Elizabeth City State University (N.C.) at 7:30 p.m.