ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The NECC announced its 2017 Women's Volleyball All-Conference teams and major award winners on Tuesday afternoon. The awards were voted on by the conference's eight coaches following the conclusion of the regular season.
Lesley University middle hitter Kaylee Deluga (Dennis, Mass.) was voted the 2017 NECC Player of the Year. Southern Vermont College defensive specialist Heidy Benitez (Tulare, Calif.) was named Defensive Player of the Year, and Elms College setter Dakota Stewart (Victoria, Texas) earned Rookie of the Year honors. Elms head coach Sheila Gisbrecht was voted Coach of the Year.
Joining Deluga on the first-team is her teammate, outside hitter Anni Abbruzzese (Croton on Hudson, N.Y.). Elms also had two representatives earn first-team accolades, outside hitter Danielle Redding (Las Vegas, N.V.), and Rookie of the Year Dakota Stewart. In their first year as full conference members, Dean middle blocker Kaitlyn Anderson (Clinton, Conn.) was voted onto the first team. Southern Vermont College outside hitter Liv Sowles (Sacramento, Calif.) rounded out the first team.
The second team features two players from Southern Vermont, the Defensive Player of the Year, Heidy Benitez, and outside hitter Nikki Ramirez (West Covina, Calif.). Becker also has two honorees, middle blocker/outside hitter Kayla Dupree (North Bergen, N.J.) and outside hitter Sofia Cullina (Deep River, Conn.). Elms attacker Hannah Pichardo (South Glen Falls, N.Y.) earned second-team accolades, while Dean freshman outside hitter Aminah Tsonga (Plainville, Conn.) closed out the second team.
NECC Player of the Year – Kaylee Deluga, Lesley (Sr., MH, Dennis, Mass.)
In her senior campaign, Deluga led the Lynx to 6-1 conference record, and a No. 2 seed in the 2017 NECC Women's Volleyball Championship. Lesley led the league in kills, in large part due to Deluga's team leading 115 kills, and 4.26 kills per set. Deluga added 3.04 digs per set, along with 19 service aces, nine blocked shots, and seven assists in conference play. Deluga was a two-time 2017 NECC Player of the Week selection (weeks ending 9/24/17 and 10/15/17).
NECC Defensive Player of the Year – Heidy Benitez, Southern Vermont (Jr., DS, Tulare, Calif.)
The Southern Vermont defensive specialist played in all seven conference games, helping her team to a 4-3 conference record, and a No. 4 seed in the conference tournament. She tallied 6.54 digs per set in conference play, with 183 total digs, both of which led the league. She also added 11 assists, nine service aces, and six kills.
NECC Rookie of the Year – Dakota Stewart, Elms (Fr., S., Victoria, Texas)
Freshman Dakota Stewart was an integral part in Elms' success in conference, helping the Blazers to an undefeated regular season. Elms went on to win the NECC Championship, for which Stewart earned the Tournament MVP. She led the league in assists per set, with 8.50 in regular season conference play. She also added 2.18 digs per set, 33 service aces and 22 kills. She earned NECC Rookie of the Week honors five of the 10 weeks (weeks ending 9/10/17, 9/17/17, 10/1/17, 10/8/17 and 10/29/17).
Coach of the Year – Sheila Gisbrecht, Elms
In her tenth season at the helm for the Blazers, Gisbrecht led her team to an undefeated 8-0 conference record, and went on to win the NECC Conference Championship. Elms led the league in kills per set (11.14), assists per set (10.27) and service aces (113) in conference play. This is Gisbrecht's second NECC Coach of the Year award (2008).
First Team All-NECC
Anni Abbruzzese, Lesley (Sr., OH, Croton on Hudson, N.Y.)
Kaitlyn Anderson, Dean (Jr. MB, Clinton, Conn.)
Kaylee Deluga, Lesley (Sr., MH, Dennis, Mass.)
Danielle Redding, Elms (Jr., OH, Las Vegas, N.V.)
Liv Sowles, Southern Vermont (Jr., OH/OPP, Sacramento, Calif.)
Dakota Stewart, Elms (Fr., S, Victoria, Texas)
Second Team All-NECC
Heidy Benitez, Southern Vermont (Jr., DS/S, Tulare, Calif.)
Sofia Cullina, Becker (So., OH, Deep River, Conn.)
Kayla Dupree, Becker (Jr., MB/OH, North Bergen, N.J.)
Hannah Pichardo, Elms (Fr., A, South Glen Falls, N.Y.)
Nikki Ramirez, Southern Vermont (Fr., OH/OPP, West Covina, Calif.)
Aminah Tsonga, Dean (Fr., OH, Plainville, Conn.)
All-NECC Sportsmanship Team
Lexi Cears, Bay Path (Jr., Agawam, Mass.)
Micaela Rice, Becker (So., Charlton, Mass.)
Samantha Trullo, Dean (Sr., Chelmsford, Mass.)
Kate Moriarty, Elms (Sr., Agawam, Mass.)
Allie Charron, Lesley (Sr., Barnstable, Mass.)
Megan Elphick, Mitchell (Sr., Waterford, Conn.)
Ruby Bryant, Newbury (Fr., New Haven, Conn.)
Kemly Derby, Southern Vermont (Fr., New York, N.Y.)