Cooper Wins State's Highest Volleyball Honor

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Cooper Wins State's Highest Volleyball Honor

BATON ROUGE — LSU middle blocker Brittnee Cooper and UNO libero Nicky Valenti were named the Players of the Year on the 2009 Louisiana Sports Writers Association All-Louisiana college volleyball team announced Sunday.

Cooper was named the state’s Offensive Player of the Year, while Valenti earned the honor as Defensive Player of the Year. Priscilla Massengale of McNeese State was named the Freshman of the Year, while Nataliya Panova of Louisiana Tech was the Newcomer of the Year for first-year Louisiana non-freshman. LSU Head Coach Fran Flory picked up the state’s Coach of the Year honors.

Cooper was a near unanimous choice as the state’s best offensive player, picking up 10 of the 11 votes of volleyball SIDs throughout the state. She adds the LSWA honor to her Southeastern Conference Player of the Year award, leading the league and ranking 13th nationally in hitting percentage at .390. She also led the SEC in blocks per set (1.32) and averaged 3.44 kills per set, seventh nationally. The senior from Houston had double-digit kills on 21 occasions.

Valenti, a junior from River Ridge, La., had the third best single-season in school history for the Privateers with 597 digs and a 4.70 digs per set average. She ranked among national leaders in digs per set most of the year and was labeled the team’s most consistent player by head coach Jozsef Forman as she helped UNO to their first-ever SBC Western Division championship.

In winning freshman honors, Massengale led the Cowgirls with 3.06 kills per set and the outside hitter was second on the team with 334 kills. The Baytown, Texas product recorded seven double-doubles, 16 matches with 10 or more kills, eight matches with 10 or more digs and one match of 20 or more digs.

The Newcomer of the Year transferred to Tech from Houston after her freshman season and the Sofia, Bulgaria sophomore led the Lady Techsters and was second in the Western Athletic Conference with 10 double doubles. She recorded a career high 16 kills in a win over Centenary while also totaling 19 digs. Her career high of 22 digs came in Tech’s first-ever win versus Utah State.

Flory took her team to its first SEC regular season crown since 1991 with a conference mark of 18-2 as LSU won 24 matches overall and advanced to the second round of the Tigers’ fifth-straight NCAA Tournament. The five straight post-season NCAA appearances is a school record and LSU is one of only 20 programs to qualify for five straight NCAA appearances. She was also named the SEC Coach of the Year.

Joining Cooper and Valenti on the first team that included six players at any position and the libero (Valenti) were outside hitter Visna Djurdjevic of Tulane, setter Sam Dabbs and outside hitter Marina Skender of LSU, outside hitter Lindsey Loyd of UNO and outside hitter Gina Gill of Loyola (NO).

Djurdjevic was the Conference USA Co-Player of the Year, while Dabbs and Skender earned first-team All-SEC honors for their play. Gill was named the All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference for a second team, while Loyd earned first-team Sun Belt honors.

The team was chosen by the volleyball SIDs of the state, based on nominations made by each school. Voters voted for 12 players, with 12 being their top selection. Total points determined placement on the teams.

(NOTE: Six players picked on each team regardless of position based on points; Libero chosen on first and second team vote only, no points awarded).

First Team
Name, School/Pos/Cl/Hometown/Pts/Notes, Stats
Brittnee Cooper, LSU/MB/Sr./Houston, Texas/128/SEC POY, 371 kills, .390 hit %
Visnja Djurdjevic, Tulane/OH/So./Zitiste, Serbia/101/C-USA POY, 433 kills, .212 hit%
Sam Dabbs, LSU/S/Sr./San Antonio, Texas/71/All-SEC 1st tm, 1,067 assists
Marina Skender, LSU/OH/Sr./Zagreb, Croatia/58/All-SEC 1st tm, 378 kills, 29 aces
Lindsey Loyd, UNO/OH/Sr./Houston, Texas/47/All-SBC 1st tm, 3.34 kps, .269 hit %
Gina Gill, Loyola (NO)/OH/So./Baton Rouge, La./45/All-GCAC, 444 kills, .239 hit %
Nicky Valenti, UNO/L/Jr./River Ridge, La.//597 digs, 4.70 dps

Player of the Year ? Brittnee Cooper, LSU
 Voting ? Cooper 10, Kayla Williams (GSU) 1

Defensive Player of the Year ? Nicky Valenti, UNO
 Voting ? Valenti 6, Kara Jones (La. Tech) 2, Lauren Waclawczyk (LSU) 2, Lourena Beathley (SU) 1

Freshman of the Year ? Priscilla Massengale, McNeese
 Voting ? Massengale 4, Marija Milosavjlevic (TU) 3, Samantha Worsham (Loy) 2, Chelsey Goins (GSU) 1, Jennifer Brandt (Nicholls) 1

Newcomer of the Year ? Nataliya Panova, Louisiana Tech

Coach of the Year ? Fran Flory, LSU
 Voting ? Flory 6, Sinisa Momic (TU) 2, Matt Sonnichsen (Tech) 2, Kim Young (GSU) 1

Second Team
Name, School/Pos/Cl/Hometown/Pts/Notes, Stats
Manieka Golden, Nicholls State/OH/Sr./Porter, Texas/38/262 kills, 3.12 kps
Rachel Lindelow, Tulane/S/Sr./Mandeville, La./35/All-C-USA 2nd tm, 29 service aces
KC Clayton, La. Tech/MB/Sr./Tucson, Ariz./32/All-WAC 2nd tm, .224 hit %
Kara Jones, La. Tech/MB/Jr./Moody, Texas/29/214 kills, .258 hit%
Michele Williams, LSU/MB/So./Magnolia, Texas/26/228 kills, 30 service aces
Ksenija Vlaskovic, Tulane/OH/Sr./Pozarevac, Serbia/25/All-C-USA 2nd tm, 329 kills
Lauren Waclawczyk, LSU/L/So./San Antonio, Texas//392 digs, 28 service aces

Honorable Mention (earned 11-24 points)
Nicole Bowden (MB), McNeese; Kayla Williams (OH), Grambling; NataliyaPanova (OH), La. Tech; Lindsay Brown (L), Louisiana-Lafayette.