GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) regular season and tournament champion Madonna University took home a plethora of awards led by junior setter Evia Prieditis earning Player of the Year and Setter of the Year honors to go along with Jerry Abraham being named Coach of the Year following a vote of the league's 12 head coaches.
Joining Prieditis on the All-WHAC first team were: Senior middle hitter Nastija Baranovska (Riga, Latvia / Rigas Secondary No. 16), junior outside hitter Stacey Catalano (Macomb, Mich. / Eisenhower) and junior middle hitter Emilie Freeman (Livonia, Mich. / Lutheran Westland). Sophomore outside hitter Samantha Geile (Muskegon, Mich. / Fruitport) earned honorable mention all-conference honors while younger sister and freshman libero / outside hitter Breanna Geile (Muskegon, Mich. / Fruitport) was selected to the all-freshman team.
Prieditis earned her second Setter of the Year trophy (2010) and third selection to the All-WHAC first team in as many years by leading the circuit in total assists (1528) and assists per set (11.07). She ranks third nationally in total assists and is sixth in assists per set nation wide. The 5-10 Prieditis posted 18 double-doubles (assists / digs) this season and was named the NAIA National Player of the Week on Oct. 9 after being named the most valuable player at the Liz Lykowski Memorial Classic.
Prieditis becomes the eighth Crusader to earn WHAC Player of the Year honors – joining Karen Sisung (1997), Madonna Hall of Famer Brandy Malewski (1998, '99, 2000), Shelley Stanton (2002), Amanda Sude (2003), Natalja Tinina (2005), Caryn Inman (2006) and Lubovj Tihomirova (2007, '08) - and her selection marks the 11th time in the last 16 years that a Madonna player earned the league's highest honor.
Baranovska is making her second straight appearance on the All-WHAC first team and currently leads the Crusaders with 352 kills and a .354 attack percentage, good for 29th nationally. Baranovska also leads the team with 134 total blocks.
Catalano is making her first appearance on the All-WHAC first team after transferring to MU from Grand Valley State. The 6-0 Catalano has posted 13 double-doubles this season (kills / digs) with 294 total kills despite missing eight matches due to injury. She recorded a career-high 17 kills against Daemen (Oct. 19) and a career-best 25 digs against Oklahoma Baptist on Aug. 31.
Freeman is making her initial appearance on the All-WHAC first team after ranking third among the Crusaders with 329 kills and second with 132 blocks. Freeman's 132 blocks ranks 26th nationally. This season Freeman posted a new career-best with 16 kills against Campbellsville (Oct. 5) and eight blocks against Davenport (Oct. 10).
Sam Geile ranked second on the squad with 351 kills, just one behind Baranovska to earn honorable mention honors. Geile was inserted into the starting lineup to begin the season after seeing limited time as a freshman in 2011. She recorded a career-best 19 kills against nationally-ranked Indiana East on Oct. 6 and a career-high 27 digs against Ashford one day earlier.
Geile's younger sister Breanna became the Crusaders' starting libero early in the season and shined, posting a team-high 434 digs to go along with 35 service aces to earn all-freshman team honors.
Abraham led his squad to the program's 13th WHAC title in the last 16 seasons with a 10-1 record in the league. The NAIA and Madonna Hall of Fame inductee became just the second NAIA coach to win 1,000 matches this season and was the fastest coach in collegiate volleyball history to reach the 1,000-win mark.
Junior outside hitter Nastija Seremetjeva (Riga, Latvia / Rigas Secondary No. 63 / international business) was joined on the Academic All-WHAC team by Baranovska (English) and Freeman (language arts). To be selected to the academic team, a student-athlete must be a junior or senior academically and have a 3.25 grade point average or higher.
Seremetjeva was also the Crusaders' selection to the WHAC's Champions of Character team as the student-athlete who best displays the NAIA's Five Core Values of respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, servant leadership and integrity.
The Crusaders – by virtue of their WHAC titles – have advanced to the NAIA National Championship for the 12th time in the 26-year history of the program and will be playing in the NAIA Opening Round on Saturday (Nov. 17). Game time, location and opponent will be announced on Monday (Nov. 12).
Contact: Patrick Moore (734) 432-5834
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