MEDFORD - Junior Mackenzie Bright and sophomores Heather Holz and Christina Nwankpa of the Tufts University volleyball team earned honorable mention selections to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III All-American teams announced recently.
This marks the first year since 2008 that the Jumbos have had three players receive AVCA All-America recognition. That year, setter Dena Feiger, libero Natalie Goldstein and outside hitter Dawson Joyce-Mendive also earned the AVCA's Honorable Mention All-America accolades. These are the first AVCA All-American honors for this year's players.
No one played more sets than the 112 Bright appeared in for the Jumbos while seeing action in all 30 matches this fall. She topped 300 kills this season (306) for a 2.73 kills per set average. Bright reached double figures in kills 15 times, including 18 at Amherst on October 6 and 17 at Bowdoin on September 19.
Sophomores Holz and Nwankpa both emerged as forces in the middle this fall. They were second and third in the NESCAC for blocks per set, respectively. Holz finished the season with 102 blocks (20 solo) in 105 sets for a 0.97 average. She also led the league in hitting percentage at .332 with 182 kills and 41 errors in 425 attempts. She added 35 service aces, which were a top-10 NESCAC number. Holz had an impressive nine-block match against Wisconsin-Oshkosh at the Barker Chevrolet Classic II hosted by Illinois Wesleyan on September 23. She recorded 12 kills twice this season including at Wesleyan on October 28.
Nwankpa played in all 30 matches (110 sets) and finished with 106 total blocks for a 0.96 per-set average. Her 84 block assists led the conference. She hit fourth in NESCAC with a .326 percentage after recording 205 kills with 65 errors on 430 swings. She also had a nine-block night at Bowdoin on September 19, including four solos. Her season-high in kills was also 12, which she hit twice including versus Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Head coach Cora Thompson directed the Jumbos to their second straight 10-0 season in NESCAC this fall. Tufts earned the #1 seed and hosted the conference championship. The Jumbos finished as the NESCAC runner-up, then earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. Tufts advanced to the Regional semi-finals before ending their season with a 23-7 record.