BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - For the fifth time in program history, two Western Kentucky University volleyball players have earned All-South Region honors, the American Volleyball Coaches Association announced Tuesday.
Sophomore setter Melanie Stutsman and junior outside hitter Jordyn Skinner each earned a spot on the 14-person first team. The honor is the second for Stutsman, who was named the South Region Freshman of the Year in 2010, and the first for Skinner.
"I say all the time it's not so much about coaching, it's about having great players," WKU coach Travis Hudson said. "And certainly I think Jordyn and Melanie both distinguished themselves as great players throughout the 2011 season."
Stutsman, who was a first-team All-Sun Belt selection, set her team to a .272 hitting percentage which ranks ninth in the nation. Stutsman saw action in all 119 sets this season at the setter position. On the season, Stutsman collected 1,324 assists for an average of 11.13 per set. This number ranks first in the conference and 30th in the nation in assists per set. She has recorded 30 assists in 30 of 35 matches this season. Stutsman, however, appeared on the stat sheets in more than one category. She ranks fifth in the conference with a .336 hitting percentage in league matches and led the team with 43 service aces. Stutsman collected six double-doubles as a sophomore, the last with 47 assists and 10 kill against Troy on November 5.
"She continues to find ways to get better," Hudson said. "Again, as I said a year ago, I think Melanie would tell you this is very much a team honor in terms of setters are judged by how their team does offensively and that has a lot to do with ball control and people that can finish plays and certainly having a talented kid that can get them the ball."
Skinner, who earned first-team All-Sun Belt honors and was named the SBC Player of the Year, saw action in all 119 sets and is one of the top all-around players in the league and the only player in the Sun Belt to rank among the top 10 in kills, digs and service aces. Skinner recorded 21 double-doubles this season and had 30 matches with double-digit kills and 20 with double-digit digs. In a win against Xavier, Skinner finished one kill shy of the school record with a career-high 30 kills. She finished the season averaging 3.82 kills per set and 3.42 digs per set. She led WKU with 454 kills, was second with 407 digs and third with 87 blocks.
"I'm just so pleased to see her get recognized at the level that she has this year," Hudson said. "She is a special talent and to watch her growth throughout her career and go from where she began to being recognized at the level that she has this year, I think is pretty special on a personal level as much as an athletic level and I think that will serve her well moving forward in her life."
With selection to the first team of the All-South Region, Stutsman and Skinner are now eligible for All-America candidacy which will be announced before the Final Four on Wed., December 14.
This year marks the first time WKU had placed multiple players on the All-South Team in back-to-back seasons. Overall, a Lady Topper has been tabbed to the team on 15 occasions, all under the direction of Hudson.