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updated: 11/29/2011 1:57 PM

Three suburban stars earn Big Ten volleyball honors

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  • Colleen Ward

    Colleen Ward

  • Stephanie Holthus, a Northwestern outside hitter, slams home a shot against the Illini in a match this fall. Holthus, a sophomore who played at Burlington Central, earned a spot on the All Big Ten Volleyball Team, which was announced Tuesday.

    Stephanie Holthus, a Northwestern outside hitter, slams home a shot against the Illini in a match this fall. Holthus, a sophomore who played at Burlington Central, earned a spot on the All Big Ten Volleyball Team, which was announced Tuesday.
    Photo courtesy of Northwestern University/S.J. Car

Daily Herald Report

When the Big Ten handed out its annual postseason volleyball awards Tuesday, three former suburban stars were among those sharing the spotlight.

Former Naperville North star Colleen Ward, a senior outside hitter at Illinois, and former Burlington Central star Stephanie Holthus, a sophomore outside hitter at Northwestern, were named to the All Big Ten first team, while former Glenbrook South player Ellen Chapman of Wisconsin was named to the All Freshman team.

Purdue's Ariel Turner was named the Big Ten Player of the Year by a vote of the conference's coaches, and Boilermaker head coach Dave Shondell was selected Coach of the Year by Big Ten coaches and media. Penn State's Katie Slay and Micha Hancock also earned individual honors, with Slay named Defensive Player of the Year and Hancock earningthe Freshman of the Year award.

Turner led the Big Ten in kills (4.92) and points per set (5.54) through the regular season, finishing in the nation's top five in both categories. The Boilermaker outside hitter has also racked up 15 double-doubles this season and averages 2.76 digs for the year. Turner received five Big Ten Player of the Week awards, tying the conference's single-season record. She becomes the second Purdue player to win the award and first since 1985.

Slay averaged 1.44 blocks per set this season to lead all Big Ten players, ranking 10th nationally en route to being tabbed the top defensive player in the conference. The Nittany Lion sophomore is the second Penn State player to earn the accolade and first since 2005.

Shondell earns top billing among the conference's coaches after guiding Purdue to a 27-4 overall record and a 16-4 mark in Big Ten play en route to a tie for second place in the conference standings.

Fifteen Big Ten players were tabbed All-Big Ten by the conference's coaches, with seven making the team via a unanimous vote. Joining Turner as unanimous All-Big Ten choices are Illinois' Ward, Michigan State's Jenilee Rathje, Minnesota's Ashley Wittman, Nebraska's Gina Mancuso, Penn State's Ariel Scott and Purdue's Tiffany Fisher. Rounding out the All-Conference Team are Illinois' Michelle Bartsch, Minnesota's Tori Dixon, Nebraska's Lauren Cook and Hannah Werth, Northwestern's Holthus, Ohio State's Mari Hole and Penn State's Slay and Deja McClendon.

Ward, a native of Maperville, has topped the 1,500 kills mark for her career, combining her numbers at Florida and Illinois. She was named to the all-tournament team at both the BYU/Nike Invitational and the State Farm Illini Classic this season. She has had double-digits in kills in 27 of 31 matches with 18 double-doubles. Ward ranks seventh in theconference in kills at 3.66 per set and eighth in the league in points (4.10). She had 20 kills and 20 digs in a straight sets victory over Northwestern, marking just the second time in Illinois historythat a player has had a 20-20 performance in a three-set match.

After being named to the All-Freshman team in 2010, Holthus elevate her play as a sophomore. She led the Wildcats in several key statistical categories, including kills (475), attempts (1,453) and points (530.5). Her total of 475 kills marked the seventh-highest single-season output in Northwestern annals.

Amongst her peers in the Big Ten, Holthus finished the regular season fourth in both kills with 4.17 per set and points with 4.65 per set; she ranks 31st nationally in kills per set and 36th in points per set.

In addition to claiming MVP honors at the Utah Classic, Holthus was chosen as the most valuable player in two other preseasons tournaments for the 'Cats: the Chicagoland Challenge and the 30th Wildcat Classic. She was also named to the All-Tournament team at the Magnolia Invitational. In those four tournaments combined, Holthus averaged 5.05 kills per set and 2.95 digs per set. She tallied eight service aces and 27 total blocks over that span, as well.

Holthus led the team with 15 double-doubles in 2011, while establishing career-high efforts in several categories. On Sept. 9, Holthus scored 26 kills against Central Arkansas and on Oct. 22, she equaled a career-high with 20 digs in a three-set win over Iowa. Against the Wisconsin Badgers on Oct. 29, Holthus handed out a career-high three assists and sent down seven total blocks.

Here is the complete list of All-Big Ten honorees and individual award winners:

All Big Ten volleyball team

Michelle Bartsch, Sr., outside hitter, ILL (2)

COLLEEN WARD, Sr., outside hitter, ILL (2)

JENILEE RATHJE, Sr., outside hitter, MSU (2)

Tori Dixon, So., middle blocker, MINN

ASHLEY WITTMAN, So., outside hitter, MINN

Lauren Cook, Jr., setter, NEB

GINA MANCUSO, Jr., outside hitter, NEB

Hannah Werth, Jr., outside hitter, NEB

Stephanie Holthus, So., outside hitter, NU

Mari Hole, Jr., outside hitter, OSU

Deja McClendon, So., outside hitter, PSU (2)

ARIEL SCOTT, So., right side, PSU

Katie Slay, So., middle blocker, PSU

TIFFANY FISHER, Sr., middle blocker, PUR

ARIEL TURNER, Jr., outside hitter, PUR

CAPS denotes unanimous selection

Honorable mention

Alex Hunt, Sr., outside hitter, MICH

Kyndra Abron, Sr., outside hitter, MSU

Morgan Broekhuis, So., right side, NEB

Brooke Delano, Sr., middle blocker, NEB

Emily Danks, Jr., right side, OSU

Alexis Mitchell, Jr., middle hitter, WIS

All Freshman Team

Liz McMahon, opposite hitter, ILL

Lexi Dannemiller, setter, MICH

Katie Dutchman, middle blocker, NU


Kierra Jones, middle blocker, PUR

Ellen Chapman, outside hitter, WIS

Courtney Thomas, setter/outside hitter, WIS

Player of the Year: Ariel Turner, PUR

Defensive Player of the Year: Katie Slay, PSU

Freshman of the Year: Micha Hancock, PSU

Coach of the Year: Dave Shondell, PUR

Sportsmanship Award

Rachel Feldman, ILL

Lindsay Enterline, IND

Mallory Husz, IOWA

Sloane Donhoff, MICH

Jenilee Rathje, MSU

Mia Tabberson, MINN

Brigette Root, NEB

Madalyn Shalter, NU

Kelli Barhorst, OSU

Maggie Harding, PSU

Emily Ehlers, PUR

Caroline Workman, WIS

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