Cooper, Skender Lead All-Region Team
LEXINGTON, Ky. ? LSU middle blocker Brittnee Cooper and outside hitter Marina Skender notched AVCA All-South Region First-Team accolades, while LSU setter Sam Dabbs tallied AVCA All-South Honorable Mention status Wednesday as announced by the governing body of collegiate volleyball.
Cooper and Skender are now eligible to become AVCA All-Americans, which will be announced next week in Tampa prior to the start of Final Four weekend. It marks the third consecutive season that LSU has had two AVCA All-South Region First-Team selections as Cooper joined Elena Martinez in 2008. Martinez and Lauren DeGirolamo represented LSU in 2007.
Cooper also became the fifth Tiger to pick up multiple AVCA All-South Region First-Team honors. The elite company includes Monique Adams (1990 & 1991), Angie Miller (1990 & 1991), Daniela Reis (1990, 1991 & 1992) and Elena Martinez (2007 & 2008).
“We’re excited and certainly proud for one of the most decorated senior classes in our program history,” head coach Fran Flory said. “There’s no doubt they have left their mark at LSU. Brittnee, Sam and Marina are not only wonderful volleyball players on the court but model student-athletes away from the court.”
Cooper, the 2009 SEC Player of the Year, garnered an impressive .409 hitting percentage, which is a program single-season record in addition to ranking No. 6 nationally. She knocked double-digit kills on 23 times highlighted by a career-best 28 spikes against Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament Second Round.
Cooper also racked up 1.37 blocks per set to pace the SEC and rank No. 18 in the nation. She tallied at least five blocks on 15 occasions and finished fifth on the program’s all-time list with 495 total stuffs.
Skender, a 2009 All-SEC First-Team pick, powered home double-figure kills in 27 of 32 matches and added a team-best 13 double-doubles. Her 3.90 kills per set in league matches ranked fourth, while her 0.26 aces per set overall are seventh in the SEC. The Croatia native ripped a season-best 20 kills and reeled in 15 digs during LSU’s historic win at No. 10 Florida.
Skender is one of only five players in program history to reach over 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. She finished her career with 1,500 kills and 1,273 digs to rank fifth and sixth, respectively.
Dabbs, a 2009 All-SEC First-Team honoree, passed out 11.33 assists per set, good enough for second in the SEC and 18th in the nation. She set LSU to over a .300 hitting percentage on 14 occasions and tallied 12 double-doubles sparked by a career-best 64 helpers to go along with 11 digs against Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament Second Round.
In only two seasons with the Tigers, Dabbs distributed 2,025 assists to rank seventh on the program’s all-time list.
LSU racked up an impressive 25-7 record in 2009 en route to the program’s first SEC regular season title since 1991. The defending five-time SEC Western Division champions also made a program-record fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance under Flory.
Below are the AVCA All-South Region awards. Cooper and Skender are joined by seven other SEC players representing Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee to make up the 14-player AVCA All-South Region First Team.
AVCA All-South Region First Team
Player, School, Position, Class
Brittnee Cooper, LSU, MB, Sr.
Elyse Cusack, Florida, DS/Lib., Sr.
Nikki Fowler, Tennessee, RS/Opp., Jr.
Chloe Goldman, Tennessee, DS/Lib., Sr.
Alex Kelly, Lipscomb, MB, Jr.
Sarah Mendoza, Kentucky, OH, Jr.
Kelly Murphy, Florida, S/Opp, So.
Stacy Oladinni, Middle Tennessee, RS/Opp, So.
Stefine Pease, Lipscomb, S, Jr.
Yarimar Rosa, Florida International, OH, Sr.
Sarah Rumely, Kentucky, S, Sr.
Marina Skender, LSU, OH, Sr.
BriAnne Sauer, Kentucky, DS/Lib., Sr.
Natalia Valentin, Florida International, S, Jr.
Region Freshman of the Year: Jasmine Norton, OH (Arkansas)
Honorable Mention: Jovana Bjelica (Florida International, OH, Fr.), Sam Dabbs (LSU, S, Sr.), Emmy Davidsmeyer (Denver , MB, Sr.), Cole Dawley (Charleston, S, Jr.), Jasmine Norton (Arkansas, OH, Fr.), Lauren Rapp (Kentucky, RS/Opp., Jr.)