FGCU #1; Devine, Masters Garner Preseason #ASunVB Awards

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

MACON, Ga. – Defending regular season champion Florida Gulf Coast earned the preseason nod to claim the 2013 A-Sun title, while ETSU’s Megan Devine and FGCU’s Whitney Masters garnered Preseason Player of the Year and Preseason Libero of the Year honors, respectively.

Receiving four first place votes, the Eagles finished 16-2 in A-Sun play last season and swept three-time defending champion Lipscomb twice, including in the final weekend of play, to claim the regular season title. The Eagles were upended in a five-set thriller by eventual runner-up North Florida in the 2012 A-Sun Championship semifinals.

This is the second straight year that Devine has been a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Atlantic Sun team. Devine, who was also the 2012 A-Sun Player of the Year and the 2012 A-Sun Volleyball Championship Most Valuable Player, led East Tennessee State to the program’s first A-Sun Volleyball Championship with a 3-2 victory over North Florida. An Honorable Mention selection to the 2012 AVCA Division I South Region Team, she was the only player in the conference to achieve more than 500 kills with 547, which led the conference overall while she also tallied the most in conference matches (291). She set A-Sun records for most double-doubles in a season (25) and in a conference season (15), and for the most attack attempts in a season (1,586) and in conference play (839). Devine is 337 kills away from becoming the A-Sun all-time career leader in kills, currently ranking fifth with 1,410.

Along with earning Preseason Libero of the Year honors, the Eagles’ defensive specialist Masters played in all 32 matches and 116 sets for FGCU in 2012 and finished eighth in the A-Sun in digs with 3.63 per set. She also led the Eagles in total digs with 421. Masters also tallied double-digit digs in 23 matches and 20 or more digs in five matches, including a match high of 27.

Joining her Eagle teammate in preseason accolades, FGCU junior Jill Hopper returns after earning unanimous All-Atlantic Sun First Team honors in 2012. Hopper led the Eagles in kills (2.94), points (370) and service aces (.36) and was ranked second in the A-Sun in service aces and sixth in kills in A-Sun matches. She recorded 10 double-doubles in 2012 and was ranked among the top 60 players in the nation in aces per set.

Meredith Hardy set single-season A-Sun records for blocks in a season (201) and blocks in A-Sun only matches (113). The All-Atlantic Sun First-Team selection joined Devine on the 2012 All-Tournament Team and her 176 block assists ranked second among single-season ETSU leaders, along with her 201 total blocks. Hardy also averaged 1.45 blocks per set in 2012, which led the A-Sun and ranked her among the top 15 Division I players nationally. She also tied the A-Sun mark for blocks in a conference match with 12 against Stetson.

Last season Lipscomb’s trio of Caitlin Dotson, Lauren Ford and Jewell Dobson were named to the 2012 All-Atlantic Sun Second Team. Dotson led the conference and was ranked among the top 15 in the NCAA with 11.67 assists per set and finished the season with 1,214 assists. She also led the conference by nearly an assist per set with 12.05 in conference play. Second on the team with 280 digs, Dotson contributed 2.69 digs per set and added 59 kills, 19 service aces and 11 total blocks. She recorded 12 double-doubles in 2012.

Ford finished 2012 second on the team with 389 kills and 3.74 kills per set, which ranked third in the A-Sun. She also checked in at third in the conference with 3.78 kills per set in conference play and had 242 conference kills. The sophomore outside hitter ranked third on the team with 260 digs, contributed 2.50 digs per set and was tied for second on the team with 25 service aces with a 0.27 service aces per set average in conference play, which ranked eighth in the A-Sun.

Dobson was the Lady Bisons’ leader with a .334 hitting percentage, which ranked third in the conference overall and second in the conference with a .362 hitting percentage in A-Sun play. She finished third on the team with 345 kills and was fourth in the A-Sun with 3.46 kills per set and tallied 260 kills in A-sun play. Along with leading Lipscomb with 57 total blocks she added 12 assists, 15 service aces and 64 digs during the season.

The A-Sun regular season volleyball schedule begins Aug. 30, with all 10 teams taking the court in non-conference matches. Follow the Atlantic Sun on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun footprint reaches into seven of the top media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, Northern Kentucky University, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.