RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (GAC) - After she led her team to an undefeated record in Great American Conference play, Harding's Mollie Arnold unanimously earned GAC Player of the Year honors, as the conference office announced the All-GAC teams and yearly awards following a vote conducted by the league's head coaches.
Arnold - who led the conference in kills per set and points per set - had her setter, Amber Schinzing, join her on the All-GAC First Team. Schinzing led the conference in assists per set and her 11.09 assists per set ranked inside the top 20 in the nation. In total, five Lady Bisons received recognition as Liv Savage and Alyssa Short made the Second Team and Bailee Graham earned Honorable Mention. The Lady Bisons' first-year head coach Meredith Fear won the GAC Coach of the Year to add to her accolades to earned at Harding as a player. Twice she earned All-Gulf South Conference honors.
Arkansas Tech placed four on the All-GAC First Team and ended with a total of five recognized by the coaches. Setter Amber Cerrillos and middle blocker Sara Motsinger made the First Team for the second-straight year. Golden Sun seniors Carly Florian and Brittany Ryan joined their teammates on the First Team. Sophomore outside hitter Kaitlyn White received Honorable Mention.
Southern Arkansas' Denise De Vine paced four Lady Muleriders on All-GAC squads. In addition to making the First Team, she claimed the GAC Newcomer of the Year award. She ranked third in the conference in both kills per set and points per set. Libero Lauren Woods earned Second-Team honors while opposite hitter Courtney Smith and setter Klaire Blasco Vine picked up Honorable Mention nods.
One year after making the Honorable Mention list, East Central's Tatiana Booth moved up the 2012 First Team. She finished the regular season third in the GAC in hitting percentage at .299.
Southeastern Oklahoma State's Megan Kunkel won the GAC Freshman of the Year honor. She ranked in the top 10 in kills per set, digs per set, aces per set and points per set. Her 13 double-doubles ranked fourth in the GAC. She also earned Honorable Mention honors. Her teammate, Emily Gentle landed on the Second team and Madelynne Cera also made the Honorable Mention list.
Ouachita Baptist's Allison Frizzell, who led the league in digs per set made the Second Team as did Arkansas-Monticello's Amy Kleypas. Her 16 double-doubles paced the conference. Henderson State's Ty Lindberg and Southwestern Oklahoma State's Allison Cole rounded out the Second Team.
Southern Nazarene's Natalia Oliveira and SWOSU's Lindsay Dusin headed up the remaining student-athletes on the Honorable Mention list. Oliveira became the first from the Crimson Storm to earn GAC recognition and Dusin's four triple-doubles led the conference. UAM's Allison Beardsley, Henderson State's Jessica Moss and Ouachita Baptist's Megan Askew filled out the Honorable Mention team.
The 2012 GAC Volleyball Tournament Championship begins at noon on Thursday from Harding's Rhodes Field House. The day begins with East Central facing Southern Arkansas. Arkansas Tech and Arkansas-Monticello follows at 2:30 p.m. The host Lady Bisons face Southeastern at 5 p.m. and the first day concludes with Ouachita Baptist and Southwestern Oklahoma State at 7:30 p.m. All matches will air on GreatAmericanConference.com courtesy of the GAC Sports Network.