Volleyball Places Four on All-Louisiana First Team

by Matt Dunaway
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Volleyball Places Four on All-Louisiana First Team

RUSTON, La. – Angela Bensend, Desiree Elliott, Brittney Johnson and Michele Williams represented the LSU volleyball team on the All-Louisiana First Team Tuesday as announced by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

The four players for LSU on the state’s first team are a program record. The Tigers notched a trio of first teamers during the 2005, 2007 and 2009 seasons.

Bensend also was selected LSWA Player of the Year. The Plano, Texas, native became the fifth player in program history to capture the state’s top honor. She joined previous award winners Meagan Davis (2001), Ivana Kuzmic (2005), Daniela Romero (2006) and Brittnee Cooper (2009).

Elliott tacked on LSWA Freshman of the Year to her impressive collection of accolades. The Cypress, Texas, product is the fourth Tiger to earn the nod as the state’s top freshman. Jennifer Hampton (1999), Lauren Leaumont (2003) and Lauren DeGirolamo (2006) are LSU’s previous honorees.

For the second consecutive season, Fran Flory claimed the LSWA Coach of the Year. Flory led LSU to its sixth straight SEC Western Division crown, its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and an impressive 25-5 record. The six NCAA showings are a program record, and LSU is one of only 18 programs in the nation to qualify for the last six NCAA’s dating back to 2005.

“It’s a great honor and a wonderful statement for our program to have four players on the All-Louisiana First Team,” head coach Fran Flory said. “All four of these players had outstanding seasons. It’s a testament to their hard work, dedication and commitment to success. We’re extremely happy for Angela and Desiree. They truly carried our team through many portions of the season. We’re especially proud of being recognized for their efforts.”  

Bensend, an All-SEC First-Team pick, cranked a team-best 383 kills and her 3.68 per set average ranked third in the SEC. She racked up 10 or more kills 22 times, and tallied nine doubles-doubles on the season. LSU tallied a solid 34-3 clip over Bensend’s career when she reaches double figure kills.

Elliott was the first LSU freshman since Leah Bennent (1981) to notch All-SEC First-Team honors. She reeled off a .300 hitting percentage or better in 20 of 30 matches, including 14 of her 20 SEC appearances. Her .337 hitting ratio is eighth-highest in conference matches, while her team-best 104 blocks at a 1.07 per set average checked in at sixth place during league contests.

Johnson, an AVCA All-South Region Honorable Mention selection, headlined the SEC and ranked No. 42 nationally with 10.80 assists per set. She eclipsed the 40-assist plateau on 14 occasions and set the Tigers to over a .300 team hitting percentage 11 times. LSU ranks inside NCAA Top 25 in assists per set (13.28), kills per set (14.35) and hitting percentage (.260).

Williams also garnered AVCA All-South Region Honorable Mention status and ripped 334 kills to rank second on the team behind Bensend. Her 3.12 kills per set are eighth in the SEC as the Magnolia, Texas, native slapped 13 of her 18 double figure kill performances during SEC action. She registered a .303 hitting percentage to rank just outside the SEC’s Top 10. 

Below are the complete LSWA postseason award winners as voted upon by the state’s sports information directors.

LSWA First Team
Player, Class, Position, School
Angela Bensend, Sr., OH, LSU
Desiree Elliott, Fr., MB, LSU
Gina Gill, Jr., OH, Loyola
Izabela Grot, Rs.-So., OH, Tulane
Lori Hunsucker, Sr., L, Louisiana Tech
Brittney Johnson, Sr., S, LSU
Michele Williams, Jr., MB/OH, LSU

LSWA Second Team
Player, Class, Position, School
Becky Bekelja, So., S, McNeese State
Lindsay Brown, Sr., L, Louisiana-Lafayette
Edini Dobi, Sr., OH, New Orleans
Kara Jones, Sr., MB, Louisiana Tech
Cori Martone, Fr., OH, Tulane
Lesley Mirarchi, Jr., MB, Louisiana-Lafayette
Laranda Spann, Sr., MB, Northwestern State

Honorable Mention: Bianca Bin (Louisiana Tech), Mahogany Dilonga (ULM), Mandi Gavin (ULL), Allison Jones (Southeastern Louisiana), Madie Jones (LSU), Milica Jovic (Tulane), Katie Kennedy (McNeese State), Kassia Pinto (Louisiana Tech), Sabrina Stansberry (Loyola) and Samantha Worsham (Loyola).

LSWA Player of the Year
Angela Bensend, Sr., OH, LSU

LSWA Freshman of the Year
Desiree Elliott, Fr., MB, LSU

LSWA Newcomer of the Year
Izabela Grot, Rs.-So., OH, Tulane

LSWA Defensive Player (Libero) of the Year
Lori Hunsucker, Sr., L, Louisiana Tech

LWSA Coach of the Year
Fran Flory, LSU