Jocelynn Birks Named Third Team AVCA All-America
Dec. 18, 2013
Lexington, Ky. - The American Volleyball Coaches Association selected Fighting Illini sophomore Jocelynn Birks to the 2013 Division I All-America Third Team, while senior libero Jennifer Beltran wraps up her prolific career with an All-America Honorable Mention. Birks is the 12th Illinois student-athlete to garner AVCA All-America honors and the first since outside hitters Colleen Ward and Michelle Bartsch both earned the award in 2011.
Sophomore outside hitter Jocelynn Birks earns her first career All-America award after earning a unanimous All-Big Ten honor and AVCA All-Northeast Region. A potent attacker, Birks ranks fifth in the Big Ten and 40th in the nation in kills per set, fourth in the Big Ten and 38th in the nation in points, and was fourth in both categories during conference play. The six-rotation player gained confidence with her serve throughout the season, landing 16 aces over the final 11 matches, including five during the NCAA Tournament, to finish the year tied for seventh in aces per set in Big Ten play. The Willow Springs, Ill., native became just the third Illini ever to post multiple 500-kill seasons, finishing 2013 with an even 500 kills, 278 digs, 76 blocks, 28 aces and 20 assists on the season and scoring a total of 570.0 points for the Fighting Illini.
After two seasons for the Orange and Blue, Birks ranks second in the nation in career attempts per set (12.32) and ninth in kills per set (4.09), sitting in third place among active underclassmen with 1,010 career kills. The OH tallied eight 20-kill matches in 2013 and has 19 for her career, which is tied for fourth all-time at Illinois with two full seasons left to play. Additionally, she already ranks 11th all-time in career attempts (3,042), with her 1,584 swings in 2013 ranked fourth on the single-season list.
Senior libero Jennifer Beltran garners her first career All-America Honorable Mention after earning a spot on the AVCA All-Northeast Region team. The Reseda, Calif., native has been a steady leader in the back line all season as a key component of the Illini's success. Ranked third in the Big Ten in digs per set, she tallied 526 digs in 2013, including 10 20-dig performances. Beltran became Illinois' all-time career digs leader in mid-October and retires with the second-most digs all-time in Big Ten history, while ranking sixth nationally among active players. A true senior leader, she was influential in the Illini's much-needed late-season surge.
Of the 42 student-athletes that garnered All-America honors, 13 were members of the Big Ten, with a conference-best four Nittany Lions making one of the three teams. Penn State's Micha Hancock and Ariel Scott were both named First-Team All-Americans, along with Minnesota middle Tori Dixon and Nebraska outside Kelsey Robinson. USC outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu was named AVCA Freshman of the Year, while the 2013 Player of the Year award will be announced at the AVCA All-America banquet on Friday, Dec. 20.
For the complete release from the AVCA, including a full list of honorable mentions and biographical information on all 42 honorees, visit: http://www.avca.org/awards/all-america/division-one/
2013 AVCA DIVISION I FIRST-TEAM ALL-AMERICA
2013 AVCA DIVISION I SECOND-TEAM ALL-AMERICA
2013 AVCA DIVISION I THIRD-TEAM ALL-AMERICA
* indicates 2012 AVCA First-Team All-America selection
2013 Division I AVCA Freshman of the Year: Ebony Nwanebu, USC, OH
2013 Division I AVCA Player of the Year: Announced at the AVCA All-America/Player of the Year Banquet presented by Northwestern Mutual on Friday.