La Crosse, Wis. – For the second straight season, Viterbo University volleyball player Alicia Olson (Jr. – Eau Claire, Wis.) was named the top player in the Midwest Collegiate Conference. Also joining Olson on the MCC First team was Brianna Brinkman (Jr. – St. Charles, Minn.), Jennifer Krentz (So. – Watertown, Minn.) and Erica Willadsen (Sr. – Cochrane, Wis.) while senior Mandi Baumeister (Burlington, Wis.) earned Honorable Mention All-Conference honors. Krentz was also honored as the MCC Libero of the Year marking the eighth straight season the V-Hawks have had the top libero in the conference.
Olson was not only the best player in the MCC this season but she also proved herself as one of the top players in the country (NAIA). She finished the year with 669 kills which is the most in the country. Her 4.61 kills per set average also was tops in the NAIA while finishing with a .287 hitting percentage. Offensive was not the only thing Olson provided the V-Hawks as she turned herself into a six rotation player this season. Defensively, Olson finished fourth on the team with 300 digs while she added 21 service aces.
"Alicia is one of the most gifted players I have ever been around, and as good as she is, she gets better each day," Head Coach Ryan DeLong said. "Alicia turned herself into a six-rotation player and has been a force all year for us. Everyone in the gym knows that she will get the ball, but she still scores; that shows the type of player she is. As great as Alicia is, she is the most team-oriented and humble player I have been around. She is the complete package and I am excited to have her back again next year!"
After taking over at the libero position six matches into the season, Krentz solidified herself as the best defensive player in the conference. She finished third in the country (NAIA) in digs with 826 digs while finishing second in the MCC in digs per set at 5.2. She also led the V-Hawks with 44 service aces and a .938 serving percentage. She committed just 43 serve receive errors in 847 attempts and a .949 serve receive percentage.
"Jen has worked very hard to become the player she is, and she continues to improve," commented DeLong. "Jen's play was a key to our success this year as a team. I am extremely happy for her and know she will use this as a challenge to continue to be the best player she can become."
Brinkman had the challenge this season in replacing the 2012 MCC Setter of the Year and she responded very well. Running a fast and high powered offense Brinkman finished the year with a single season school record 1,285 assists. She also finished second on the V-Hawks with 43 service aces and also added 163 kills.
After being a role player her first three years of her V-Hawk career, Willadsen responded very well to having to be one of the V-Hawks go to players this season. She finished second on the team in kills with 391 while leading the V-Hawks with 113 total blocks. Forced to play out of position most of the season, Willadsen did not let that affect her as she played both middle and outside this season.
Not too often does a defensive specialist earn all-conference honors unless they are a libero. But the very consistent and reliable play of Baumeister helped her buck that trend. One of the most consistent serve receive players in the MCC, Baumeister committed just 18 serve receive errors in 543 total attempts. She also finished third on the team in digs with 418. She also made her presence felt for the V-Hawks as a server as she had just 13 service errors in 633 attempts for a .979 serve percentage.
As a team, the V-Hawks finished the year 33-12 overall and 5-1 in the MCC as they contended all the way until the final regular season game for conference title. The 2013 season came to an end on Saturday when they fell to Grand View University in the MCC Tournament finals. Although the V-Hawks will graduate Baumeister, Willadsen and Lynette Benson (Sr. – Forest Lake, Minn.), coach DeLong will return a major core of a team that spent the 2013 season either in the NAIA top-25 polls or just outside receiving votes. He believes with the addition of a very good recruiting class, the V-Hawks should contend to be not only one of the top teams in the MCC in 2014 but also a team that can be back in the NAIA to