MARSHFIELD, Mass. – The NECC announced its 2018 Women's Volleyball All-Conference teams and major award winners on Monday afternoon. The awards were voted on by the conference's ten coaches following the conclusion of the regular season. Nine of the ten schools are represented on the all-conference teams, with Elms College leading the way with four selections, while Southern Vermont College is right behind with three, as well as three of the four major awards.
Southern Vermont outside hitter Liv Sowles (Sacramento, Calif.) was voted the 2018 NECC Player of the Year, while her teammate, defensive specialist Heidy Benitez (Tulare, Calif.), was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. Eastern Nazarene College setter Ruth Aguilar (Tegucigalpa, Honduras) earned Rookie of the Year honors. Southern Vermont head coach Pat Robidoux was voted Coach of the Year by his peers.
Sowles, Benitez and Aguilar were all voted onto the first team, and are joined by outside hitter Courtney McCarthy (Merrimack, N.H) of Eastern Nazarene, setter Dakota Stewart (Victoria, Texas) of Elms and outside hitter Tihani Ehia (Kaneohe, Hawaii) of New England College.
The second team features three players from Elms, libero Kianna Lozada (Bayamon, P.R.), outside hitter Danielle Redding (Las Vegas, Nev.) and attack Ayanna Meadows (Springfield, Mass.). Bay Path University is represented by freshman Lydia Clifford (Coventry, R.I.), who is joined by fellow freshman Maile Counts (Vista, Calif.) of Lesley University. New England College's Dreka Griffin (Calera, Ala.) rounds out the second team.
Becker College placed two on the third team, as middle blocker/outside hitter Kayla Dupree (North Bergen, N.J.) and libero Joanna Bampi (Peabody, Mass.) were honored. Dean's Kaitlyn Anderson (Clinton, Conn.) also represents her school on the third team. Lesley's Cassidy Wygonik (Madison, Conn.), Mitchell setter Cameron Childs (Gainesville, Fla.) and Southern Vermont's Meg Maddalena (Portola, Calif.) close out the third team.
NECC Player of the Year – Liv Sowles, Southern Vermont (Sr., OH, Sacramento, Calif.)
In her senior campaign, Sowles led the Mountaineers to a 7-2 conference record, and the No. 3 seed in the 2018 NECC Women's Volleyball Championship. Sowles led the league in both kills (342), and kills per set (4.22). The senior currently ranks in the top 20 in NCAA Division III in kills per set, and has the fifth most kills in a five-set match in Division III this year (24). She is also tops in the nation in attacks per set with 13.63. Sowles tacked on 2.25 digs per set, to go along with 45 service aces. She was a two-time 2018 NECC Player of the Week selection (weeks ending 9/17/18 and 10/1/18).
NECC Defensive Player of the Year – Heidy Benitez, Southern Vermont (Sr., DS, Tulare, Calif.)
The Southern Vermont defensive specialist played in all nine conference matches, helping her team to a 7-2 conference record, and a No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. She tallied 479 total digs, tops in the league, and 5.51 digs per set, which is good for second in the conference. She also added 45 service aces and 44 assists. This is Benitez's second consecutive NECC Defensive Player of the Year award.
NECC Rookie of the Year – Ruth Aguilar, Eastern Nazarene (Fr., S/OH, Tegucigalpa, Honduras)
Freshman Ruth Aguilar was an integral part in Eastern Nazarene's success in conference, helping the Lions to an 8-1 regular season record, and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. She was second in the league with 3.52 kills per set in conference play, and fourth overall with 3.01. She also leads the league in service aces per set with 0.90, while contributing 4.30 assists per set, and 2.06 digs per set. Aguilar is currently in the top 20 in the Division III in aces per set, total service aces (63) and triple-doubles (4). She was the NECC Player of the Week three times (weeks ending 10/9/18, 10/15/18, 10/29/18) and the Rookie of the Week selection in five of the nine weeks (weeks ending 9/24/18, 10/1/18, 10/9/18, 10/15/18, 10/29/18).
Coach of the Year – Pat Robidoux, Southern Vermont
In his second year at the helm for the Mountaineers, Robidoux led his team to a 7-2 conference record, and the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. Southern Vermont led the league in service aces per set (3.28) and was second in the league in blocks per set (1.18). This is Robidoux's first NECC Coach of the Year award.
First Team All-NECC
Ruth Aguilar, Eastern Nazarene (Fr., S/OH, Tegucigalpa, Honduras)
Courtney McCarthy, Eastern Nazarene (Jr., OH, Merrimack, N.H.)
Dakota Stewart, Elms (So., S, Victoria, Texas)
Tihani Ehia, New England College (Fr., OH, Kaneohe, Hawaii)
Heidy Benitez, Southern Vermont (Sr., DS/S, Tulare, Calif.)
Liv Sowles, Southern Vermont (Sr., OH/OPP, Sacramento, Calif.)
Second Team All-NECC
Lydia Clifford, Bay Path (Fr., M, Coventry, R.I)
Kianna Lozada, Elms (Fr., L, Bayamon, P.R.)
Danielle Redding, Elms (Sr., OH, Las Vegas, N.V.)
Ayanna Meadows, Elms (So. ATK, Springfield, Mass.)
Maile Counts, Lesley (Fr., S, Vista, Calif.)
Dreka Griffin, New England Col. (So., MH, Calera, Ala.)
Third Team All-NECC
Joanna Bampi, Becker (Fr., L, Peabody, Mass.)
Kayla Dupree, Becker (Sr., MB/OH, North Bergen, N.J.)
Kaitlyn Anderson, Dean (Jr. MB, Clinton, Conn.)
Cassidy Wygonik, Lesley (Jr., OH, Madison, Conn.)
Cameron Childs, Mitchell (Fr., S, Gainesville, Fla.)
Meg Maddalena, Southern Vermont (Jr., MB/OPP, Portola, Calif.)
Del Malloy Sportsmanship Team
Lexi Cears, Bay Path (Sr., Agawam, Mass.)
Sofia Cullina, Becker (Jr., Deep River, Conn.)
Tara Griffith, Dean (Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.)
Samantha Caldwell, Eastern Nazarene (So., Quincy, Mass.)
Sabrina Christie, Elms (Fr., Agawam, Mass.)
Amy Dai, Lesley (So., Milton, Mass.)
Ariana Carter, Mitchell (Jr., Central Falls, R.I.)
Maggie Dadmun, New England College (Fr., Cape Elizabeth, Maine)
Sophia Ortiz, Newbury (Fr., Arlington, Tenn.)
Logan Wheeler, Southern Vermont (Fr., Red Bluff, Calif.)