2006 AVCA Division II National Player of the Year
Minnesota Duluth's Vicky Braegelmann and Lock Haven's Li YiZhi Share AVCA Division II National Player of the Year Honors
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Lexington, Ky. (Nov. 21, 2006) - The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) is pleased to announce that Minnesota Duluth junior right side/opposite hitter Vicky Braegelmann and Lock Haven senior middle blocker Li YiZhi have been named 2006 AVCA Division II Co-National Players of the Year. This is the first time there are Co-National Players of the Year in Division II.
Braegelmann a native of Albany, Minn., was instrumental in leading Minnesota Duluth to a 31-4 overall record, an undefeated 12-0 conference record and the semifinals of the NCAA Division II National Championships. In the national semifinal match, Braegelmann had a season high 26 kills in a 1-3 loss to eventual champion, Tampa. It is the second-time in her career that the Bulldogs made it to the NCAA DII National Championships.
"We are very excited for Vicky to be named to this honor," said Minnesota Duluth Head Coach Jim Boos. "She has had an incredible first three years and has helped take this program to new heights. Vicky and this team have been to the Elite Eight two of the last three years, which says a lot about her and her teammates. The impressive part is that she has been an All-American for two years, so teams know about her and plan accordingly to defend her, and yet her numbers and performance this year were better than the previous two. We're proud of the fact that the team accomplished its goals, which in turn, allowed Vicky to accomplish hers, and we're very happy for her."
In addition to being named AVCA Division II Co-National Player of the Year, Braegelmann is a three-time AVCA First-Team All-American and a three-time AVCA Division II All-North Central Region selection. She also earned her second consecutive North Central Conference (NCC) Most Valuable Player award, was named to her third consecutive All-North Central Conference Volleyball Team and was named the NCC Offensive Player of the Week six times this season.
Braegelmann led her team in a number of statistical categories this season, with 560 kills, a .374 hitting percentage, 4.75 kills per game and 12 block solos. She also finished second on the team with 66 block assists and 78 total blocks. She posted 31 double-figure kills and hit over .500 in 10 matches this season, including a season-high .696 against Abilene Christian.
In her three seasons of play at Minnesota Duluth, she ranks first on the Bulldog career list with a .358 hitting percentage, sixth with 1,396 kills and tenth with 22 block assists.
Braegelmann is the first female athlete in Minnesota Duluth athletics history to be named National Player of the Year, as well as the first NCAA Division II athlete in Minnesota Duluth athletics history to be named National Player of the Year in any sport.
YiZhi, who was born in Shanghai, China, helped lead her team to a 32-6 overall record, a 9-1 conference record and the NCAA Division II National Championship quarterfinals. In the quarterfinal match, YiZhi led all players with 24 kills, a .413 hitting percentage, two solo blocks, and tied another player with 18 digs in a 1-3 loss to West Texas A&M. Lock Haven has reached the NCAA Division II Championships all four years of YiZhi's collegiate career.
"It is just a tremendous accomplishment," Lock Haven Head Coach Tom Justice said of YiZhi's earning the award. "I can't think of anyone who is more deserving. It's not just her front row play that makes her so special. Her back row is equally spectacular. I would stack her up against the best liberos in the country for her ability to pass the ball and dig the ball. I think that's something a lot of people overlook. I am just very proud of her and all that she's accomplished and contributed to this program. I know there's a lot of players out there who are deserving of the award, but this is very well deserved and I'm very pleased and proud of her for this accomplishment."
In addition to being named AVCA Division II Co-National Player of the Year, YiZhi has earned numerous other awards, including being named a three-time AVCA First Team All-American, a three-time AVCA All-Atlantic Region Team selection, a three-time Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West Division Athlete of the Year, and a four-time All-PSAC West First Team member.
Statistically, YiZhi led her team this season in many categories, both offensive and defensive. On offense, she led the Lady Eagles with 485 kills, a 4.01 kills per game average and a .465 hitting percentage. She was also third on the team with 43 aces. On defense, she led Lock Haven with 350 digs, a 2.89 digs per game average, 39 block solos, 122 block assists, 161 total blocks and a 1.33 blocks per game average.
As she closes out her playing career, YiZhi has established new career marks at Lock Haven, with 1,943 kills, 1,717 digs and 657 blocks, and holds numerous school individual match records and single-season records as well. She has been Lock Haven's statistical leader all four years in kills, hitting percentage, block solos, total blocks and digs, while being the top server three out of four years, finishing third in aces this year.
The formal presentation of the 2006 AVCA Division II Co-National Players of the Year will be made Dec. 15 in Omaha, Nebraska at the AVCA All-America/Players of the Year Banquet. The banquet, which will take place at the Qwest Center Omaha Convention Center, is held in conjunction with the 2006 AVCA Annual Convention and NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball National Championship.