NEWARK, Del. -- For the fifth straight year, the University of Delaware volleyball team walked away from the Colonial Athletic Association annual awards banquet with at least one top honor.
This year, on the eve of the CAA Volleyball Championship hosted by No. 1 seed Delaware (18-12, 11-3 CAA), senior setter Renee Tomko was named the CAA Setter of the Year Thursday night at Clayton Hall. The post-season honors were selected by a vote of the league head coaches.
Three other Blue Hens were also rewarded as the conference announced the 2011 All-CAA teams during the banquet. Along with Tomko, junior Alissa Alker was named to the first team, junior Chelsea Lawrence earned a spot on the second team, and senior Kim Stewart was a third team honoree.
Tomko’s honor marks the third straight year a Blue Hen has been named the CAA Setter of the Year, following in the footsteps of two-time award winner Jess Chason.
Tomko, a Jefferson Hills, Pa. native, was second in the CAA in spreading 10.67 assists per set, but she upped her average to 11.00 in conference matches. Tomko also led the Blue Hens to a conference best .252 attack percentage in CAA play. She dished out 91 percent of the team's assist totals during conference matches, which was more than any other player and team combination in the league.
The six-rotation player also leads the league in service aces per set (0.49) and is fourth on the team in digs (2.76 per set) and blocks (0.48 per set).
Joining Tomko on the first team, Alker was also a six-rotation player who had a hand in everything for the Blue Hens. She leads the team by averaging 3.81 points per set and is tied for the team lead with 29 aces. Alker is also second on the team in kills per game (3.11) and third on the team in digs (3.20) and blocks (0.75) per set. The right side/outside hitter is sixth in the CAA in conference matches with 3.68 points a frame and is 10th in kills per game (3.04).
Alker secured her third career All-CAA honor as she also was named to the All-CAA third team as a sophomore in 2010 and to the All-Rookie team in 2009.
Lawrence was named to the second team for the first time in her career as she helped lead the defense to a league low .170 opponent hitting percentage. She was as high as second in the conference for hitting percentage, finishing sixth with a .313 average in CAA play. She is also sixth in blocks, denying 1.10 blocks per set against conference opponents. She has 108 total blocks on the season with a team-high 92 block assists. She is also hitting a team high .280 with 242 kills in 108 games.
Stewart earned her fourth postseason All-CAA honor, but first since 2009. She was named to the third team this season after earning the 2008 Rookie of the Year honor and a spot on the third team. She also was named to the All-CAA second team in 2009.
The Kentwood, Mich. native is another important six-rotation player for head coach Bonnie Kenny, and has only missed one start in her four-year career as a Blue Hen. This season, she is second on the team in digs per set (3.25), third in kills (2.44) and points (2.83) per set, and fifth in blocks per set (0.47). She was named the CAA Player of the Week on October 10 after collecting 31 kills with two errors and a .382 attack clip in wins over James Madison and George Mason.
Towson’s Katy Buck was named the CAA Player of the Year after leading all league attackers with 4.08 kills per game and 4.34 points a set on the season. Buck’s coach, Bruce Atkinson, was named CAA Coach of the Year after leading the Tigers back to the CAA Tournament for the first time since 2007.
Northeastern’s Jillian Briner and Natalia Skiba were named the Rookie of the Year and Defensive Specialist of the Year, respectively, after leading the Huskies to the No. 2 seed.
The CAA Tournament begins on Friday, Nov. 18 at Barbara Viera Court at the Carpenter Sports Building with quarterfinal matches. No. 3 Towson will take on No. 6 VCU at 4 p.m. and No. 4 Georgia State will face No. 5 James Madison starting at 7 p.m.
The top-seeded Blue Hens will return to action on Saturday in the CAA Tournament semifinals, facing the Towson-VCU winner at 7 p.m.. No. 2 Northeastern will face the Georgia State-James Madison winner in the other semifinal at 4 p.m. The championship game is set for Sunday, Nov. 20, at 5 p.m. The champion will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
2011 All-CAA Volleyball Teams
First Team: Natalie Abel (James Madison), Alissa Alker (Delaware), Katy Buck (Towson), Renee Tomko (Delaware), Janelle Tucker (Northeastern), Vineece Verdun (Georgia State)
Second Team: Kristin Boyd (VCU), Courtney Hott (VCU), Aubrey Kirven (Towson), Christi Laite (UNCW), Chelsea Lawrence (Delaware), Natalia Skiba (Northeastern)
Third Team: Kelly Bacon (Northeastern), Danielle Erb (James Madison), Muki Kangwa (Georgia State), Nichole Kurz (Northeastern), Kylee Maneja (Hofstra), Kim Stewart (Delaware), Lana Zonjic (George Mason)
All-Rookie Team: Cecilia Arago (VCU), Jillian Briner (Northeastern), Krisit Richardon (James Madison), Paige Sekerak (Towson), Natalie Skiba (Northeastern), Kelsie Wills (Hofstra)
Player of the Year: Katy Buck, Towson
Setter of the Year: Renee Tomko, Delaware
Defensive Specialist of the Year: Natalie Skiba, Northeastern
Rookie of the Year: Jillian Briner, Northeastern
Coach of the Year: Bruce Atkinson, Towson