It's Thursday before the MAC Volleyball Tournament starts, which means today the conference announced their regular season awards and, as usual, their bloated first team, which is 18 strong for the second year in a row.
For the second year in a row, UB has two honorees, though neither approaches the individual conference recognition that Kelly Svoboda received as Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.
Tahleia Bishop repeated on the All-MAC First Team despite missing three matches and parts of three more to various injuries and illnesses this year. Bishop tops the Bulls by a wide margin and sits second in the MAC in both total kills and kills/set. UB's offense is more balanced than in years past, but still mostly Bishop: she has 30% more swings and 50% more kills than the Bulls' next-most productive hitter, Megan Lipski.
In Niki Bozinoski and Skyler Day UB has two freshman that have started from the get-go or slowly fought their way to more playing time, but Cassie Shado's excellent play during the MAC season earned her the recognition among seven newcomers, five of whom are freshmen.
Shado, playing in just two-thirds of the sets on the season, leads the Bulls in hitting percentage - though middle blockers generally seem to have higher hitting percentages - as well as blocks/set. In fact, in the conference-wide stats, she's fourth and only percentage points, a single block or two, away from the top blocks/set mark in the MAC.
Shado is just the fifth Bull to earn MAC All-Freshman honors (Keri Shiels, 1998; Nicole Morzenti 2003; Tori Beckman 2009; Liz Scott 2011), while Bishop becomes the first UB player to earn multiple All-MAC First Team honors, after she and Kelly Svoboda became the first Bulls ever to make the First Team just last year in 2013.
Svoboda also won MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, while Abby Niekamp (2010) and Liz Scott (2012) have earned All-MAC Second Team honors. That's it for UB conference recognition, so to have two players recognized for the second straight year is a (relatively) big deal.
Congrats Tahleia and Cassie, and Go Bulls!