Sarah Rumely Named SEC Player of the Year
Dec. 1, 2008
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Kentucky's junior setter Sarah Rumely was named the Southeastern Conference's Volleyball Player of the Year as announced by the league office on Monday. This honor marks the first Player of the Year distinction in school history and snaps a run of 13 consecutive seasons a Florida Gator was named the top player.
In addition to Rumely's Player of the Year award, she led a league-high five UK players on All-SEC teams. Rumely and senior Queen Nzenwa were first-team All-SEC members, while sophomores Sarah Mendoza and Lauren Rapp were named to the second team; and freshman Becky Pavan was a unanimous choice for the All-SEC Freshman team. The five players selected in 2008 are the most Kentucky has ever placed on All-SEC teams, with the previous record being four players.
Rumely, who was the 2006 SEC Freshman of the Year, became Kentucky's first Player of the Year in school history after becoming just the third player in UK allure to tally over 4,000 assists for her career. She has totaled 1,000 assists or more in each of her first three seasons in the Blue and White. The junior from New Palestine, Ind., has played every point of every match this season and directed an offense that ranked third in league play and first overall in hitting percentage. She also ranks among the SEC's leaders in hitting percentage and led the conference in aces in league play. Rumely currently sits in fifth place on UK's all-time career aces list with 139. She earned SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors on Nov. 17, to become the only pure setter in the league to win the honor this season.
"All of the awards that Sarah (Rumely) has received throughout her career are all earned," said Head Coach Craig Skinner. "Nobody works harder or is more committed than Sarah. This is a great tribute to her work ethic and commitment to our program."
Nzenwa repeats on the first team All-SEC after having another stellar season for Kentucky. Nzenwa is UK's career-leader in block assists with 554. She currently holds the fifth spot on the SEC's all-time list and is two rejections shy of moving into fourth-place all-time. In each of Nzenwa's four seasons she has charted over 110 block assists including 117 this season, and has been an All-SEC member in all four seasons. The senior from Baltimore, Md., ranks among the league leaders in hitting percentage while averaging 2.36 kills per frame. A year ago, Nzenwa became UK's first All-American since 1993 and was also a member of the AVCA All-Region team.
Mendoza had a break-out sophomore season, winning SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors twice this season. She paced UK in kills with 3.28 per set, while also ranking second on the team with 2.68 digs per frame. The Winter Park, Fla., native charted career highs of 23 kills and 20 digs in SEC matches this season. She paced UK in kills on 19 occasions while leading the team with 11 double-double efforts. This is the first SEC post-season honor of her career.
Rapp earned second team honors this season after representing UK on the All-SEC Freshman team a year ago. The sophomore was second on the squad in both kills per set (2.88) and hitting percentage (.301). She is the lone UK player to tally two performances of 20 or more kills in a match, when she had 21 and 23 in matches against Ole Miss this season. Rapp was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week after having career highs in kills and hitting percentage in matches against the Rebels and Arkansas on Nov. 10.
"Having Queen and (Sarah) Rumely be selected to the first team, and Lauren and (Sarah) Mendoza earn second team honors is a tremendous compliment to our program," said Skinner. "It really shows the balance of our team and how we have so many great players who have contributed all season long."
Pavan was a unanimous choice on the All-SEC Freshman team, marking the fourth consecutive season a UK player has been among the league's best freshmen. Pavan was twice named the SEC Freshman Player of the Week this season after leading UK and leading the conference during SEC play with an average of 1.20 blocks per frame. She shined in some of Kentucky's biggest matches this season, including an 11-kill performance in an upset victory over Florida. For the year she has accounted for 134 total blocks and 205 kills in her first campaign.
"I really can't remember a time when a freshman has led a conference in blocking," Skinner said. "Becky has a significant presence at the net and really makes opponents have to alter what they want to do."
The Kentucky volleyball team was selected to host the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday and Friday at Memorial Coliseum. No. 20 Kentucky's first round match-up is against 19th-ranked Michigan at 7 p.m. on Thursday. Playing in the 5 p.m. match-up is #21 St. Louis and Alabama A&M. The two teams that advance from the first round matches will meet on Friday at 7 p.m.
This marks the fourth consecutive season the Wildcats (26-5, 17-3) have been selected to appear in the NCAA Tournament. Last year's three straight selections was a school record, which makes Skinner the only Kentucky coach to lead his team to post-season play in every season he has coached.
A Tournament Central site is available at UKathletics.com with information on all four teams, a seating chart and parking information. Follow along all week at Kentucky's official homepage for up-to-date information and news regarding the NCAA Volleyball Tournament.
2008 SEC Awards
Player of the Year:
Sarah Rumely, Kentucky
Defensive Player of the Year: Elena Martinez, LSU
Freshman of the Year: Kelly Murphy, Florida
Coach of the Year: Rob Patrick, Tennessee
Scholar Athlete of the Year: Kelsey Bowers, Florida
Kristy Jaeckel, Florida
Kelly Murphy, Florida
Colleen Ward, Florida
Kathleen Gates, Georgia
*Becky Pavan, Kentucky
*Michele Williams, LSU
Regina Thomas, Ole Miss