OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – The Association of Division III Independents released its All-Independent Teams and Awards on Thursday. All nine Illinois Tech women's volleyball players earned spots on either the first, second or third teams, with one individual award also earned.
Courtney Darling was named AD3I First Team as well as Co-Rookie of the Year. The freshman setter ranked second in AD3I in assists (992) and third in assists/set (8.07). She also totaled 270 digs (20th in AD3I) and 28 aces on the season. Her season included 13 double-doubles (assists and digs), as well as five matches of 40+ assists. The Georgia native's season high in assists was 43, coming on September 3 against Wisconsin Lutheran. She also had a season-high 16 digs against St. Mary's-Indiana on September 17 Darling was also a one-time recipient of the USCAA's Setter of the Week award.
Irena Grauzinis closes out one of the best seasons in school history with an All-Independent First Team honor. The senior, who finishes her career second all-time at Illinois Tech in kills, led all of AD3I in that category with 504 in 2016. She also ranked first in total attempts (1836), second in kills/set (.382), eighth in aces (53), ninth in digs (360), and 20th in digs/set (2.73). She tallied 14 double-doubles (kills and digs) and had seven matches with 20+ kills, reaching her season-high of 25 twice on the same day (vs. St. Louis College of Pharmacy and RMU-Springfield on October 25). The captain also had season-highs of digs (29) on September 3 at Beloit College and aces (five) on October 22 against Great Lakes Christian College. The First Team selection adds to an impressive collection of 2016 honors for the St. Charles, Illinois native, as she also received a USCAA First Team All-American honor, the October Student-Athlete of the Month Award from AD3I, a USCAA Player of the Week Award, a USCAA All-Academic Award, and three AD3I Player of the Week Awards this season.
Taylor Burton joins both Darling and Grauzinis on the AD3I First Team after a strong freshman season at middle hitter. Playing in 31 matches, Burton tallied 193 kills (17th in AD3I), 1.8 kills/set, a .171 hitting percentage (18th in AD3I) and team-highs in all block categories (32 solo, 54 assisted, 86 total, 0.8/set). All of her block numbers ranked second in AD3I with the exception of solo blocks, where she was ranked third. The impressive season included an 11-kill, five block performance in the final match of the season against Rochester College on November 11 in the USCAA Quarterfinals. She reached the five-block mark five different times, including a season-high eight blocks on October 15 against St. Louis College of Pharmacy.
Reya Green rounds out the team's All-Independent First Team selections. The senior libero ranked second in AD3I with 553 digs and seventh in digs/set with 4.19. She also tallied 34 service aces on the season, with her season-high of five coming in a five-set win over Lake Forest College on September 23. The Colorado native recorded double-digit digs in 29 of the team's 37 matches and 20+ digs 10 matches, with her season-high of 28 coming on October 15 against St. Louis College of Pharmacy.
Freshman Courtney Curcio was chosen for AD3I's Second Team. The versatile Curcio, who spent time as a defensive specialist, outside hitter, and setter this season, finished the season 12th in the Association in digs with 328, reaching double-digits 15 times. Her 30 digs against Eureka on October 1 was the highest single-game total for any Tech player in 2016. She also tallied 128 assists and 29 aces on the season, with a Tech season-high of 49 assists coming on October 15 against St. Louis College of Pharmacy.
Alyssa Miner was also named to AD3I's Second Team. The sophomore middle hitter proved to be one of the Association's top servers throughout the season, ranking in a tie for fourth in aces (56) to go along with 210 kills (16th in AD3I) and 1.59 kills/set. Her block numbers all ranked in the Top 10 in the Association, as she totaled 69 total blocks (fourth), 47 assisted blocks (fifth), 22 solo blocks (fifth), and 0.52 blocks/set (tied for ninth). Her season-highs were 15 kills (September 10 at Wisconsin Lutheran), five aces (October 15 at RMU-Springfield), and five blocks (October 15 at RMU-Springfield).
Katherine McCutcheon joins Miner as Tech All-Independent Second Team middle hitters. The freshman was strong at the net, tallying 60 total blocks (sixth in AD3I), 49 assisted blocks (tied for third), 11 solo blocks (tied for 12th), and 0.46 blocks/set (13th). She also contributed 101 kills on the season and ended the season on a strong note, recording at least one block in each of the team's last 10 matches. Her season-high in blocks was five, which she reached on two separate occasions (October 25 at CUC and November 5 vs. Finlandia University).
Jelena Vujicic rounds out Tech's All-Independent Second Team selections. The junior ranked in the AD3I Top 10 in kills, as her 263 placed her ninth on the leaderboard. Her 1.99 kills/set ranked her in the Top 20 (17th). The native of Serbia had 10 matches of double-digit kills and recorded season-highs of kills (18) and digs (11) in the same match (October 15 vs. St. Louis College of Pharmacy).
Cassie Hansen was named to the AD3I Third Team after a strong defensive season. The senior ranked 18th in the Association with 287 digs to go along with 2.17 digs/set and 36 service aces. She reached the double-digit dig mark 11 times, with her season-high of 15 coming on September 3 at Beloit College. The Niles, Illinois native also tallied a six aces on September 2 against Blackburn, the most for any Tech player in a match this season.
Illinois Tech women's volleyball reached the USCAA National Championships for the first time in school history in 2016, finishing the season with a 19-18 record.