Dec. 5, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After missing out on the BIG EAST Conference’s Freshman of the Year honor, first-year middle blocker Kellie Sciacca was rewarded by being named the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s (AVCA) Northeast Region Freshman of the Year, announced by the AVCA on Tuesday.
Sciacca became only the second Irish player to earn the recognition, joining Lauren Kelbley who won the award in 2002.
“I’m very excited for Kellie as this is a great honor for her,” said Irish head coach Debbie Brown. “I think she had an outstanding season, and it’s nice to see her get this recognition. She’s an outstanding competitor. Obviously, she had great hitting and blocking numbers and I believe she’s very deserving of this honor. It’s exciting for her and for the program.”
The Monument, Colo., native paced Notre Dame this season by posting a .343 hitting percentage, which was sixth among league players in overall play and the highest clip of any conference freshmen. In fact, the average ranked 67th nationally as only four other freshmen hit for a higher average.
Her single-season hitting average is the eighth-best of any player to don the blue and gold. She finished 12 matches with an attack average of .300 or greater, and slammed a career-high 16 kills on two occasions.
She is one of only five freshmen to lead Notre Dame in hitting percentage since the program’s inception in 1984. Kelbley was the last to do so, putting up a .351 average during her first season with the Irish.
Sciacca had an overall average of 1.11 blocks/game – 10th among league players and the best of any freshmen – as Notre Dame was ranked 20th in the nation with 3.09 blocks/game as a team. The Irish finished second in the conference with 3.26 blocks/game, trailing only a Louisville (3.94 blocks/game) squad that topped the nation in that category.
Against No. 22 Santa Clara in the Bronco Invitational, Sciacca set a school record for hitting percentage in a five-game match (.625) with 16 kills on 24 attempts with only one error. She wrapped up the three-match invite with 37 kills and a .361 mark over 14 games.
Defensively, Sciacca registered double-digit block totals against No. 11 California (10) and Villanova (11). She was also a key cog in helping Notre Dame post 22 blocks versus Villanova and 21 against the College of Charleston. She scooped a season-high seven digs during a regular-season meeting with No. 17 Louisville, and tacked on three service aces on three separate occasions throughout the year.
The BIG EAST Conference named Sciacca its Freshman of the Week three times – the most among league rookies – and she was a part of the league’s honor roll on four occasions this season.