By John Gatto
Special to the Mountain Advocate
For the second consecutive year, Union College’s Ana Calaza (JR/Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) has been named the Appalachian Athletic Conference’s Libero of the Year, headlining the selections for the Bulldogs in the AAC Volleyball Postseason Awards, which were announced on Wednesday night.
Calaza was also a member of the All-AAC First Team, joining teammates Paige Moore (SR/Louisville, Ky.) and Rachel Andrews (FR/Louisville, Ky. ) on the team. Elsewhere, Andrews and Marissa Elam (FR/Muncie, Ind.) nabbed spots on the All-Freshman Team, as well.
With tonight’s announcement, Calaza joins Amanda Silva (2009-10) as Bulldogs who captured the AAC’s Libero of the Year award twice during their respective careers.
In 2014, Calaza has once again been statistically the best at her position, ending the regular season with a conference-best 698 digs (a 5.41 per set average). Both marks are some of the highest nationally, with her total digs mark coming in 12th in the NAIA entering the AAC Tournament, while her digs per set mark ranks 25th nationally.
Throughout the course of the year, Calaza was named the AAC’s Libero of the Week four times, earning the award four of the first six weeks of the season.
For Moore, this marks the third straight season that she earns a spot on the All-AAC First Team. In 2014, Moore was Union’s top attacker, recording a team-high 412 kills, a 3.19 per set clip, while recording a .300 hitting percentage in the process.
All three marks were some of the highest in the entire AAC all season long, as Moore’s mark in total kills ranks 22nd in the entire NAIA entering postseason play. In all, Moore was named the AAC’s Player and Hitter of the Week three times on the year, all of which came in consecutive weeks in the month of October.
Andrews, a freshman, earned a spot on the All-AAC First Team after a season in which she did a little but of everything for the Bulldogs. On the attack, Andrews collected 251 kills (2.02 per set), but defensively, Andrews was just as impressive, recording 66 total blocks, 17 of which were of the solo variety.
Elam, also in her first year in the program, was dominant at times on the Union attack throughout the season. Despite missing over two weeks of action due to an injury, Elam still notched 318 kills for the year (2.8 per set), going into double-figures in the category 19 times throughout the year.
Elsewhere, Chandler Gray (JR/Alexandria, Ky.) earned a spot on both the AAC’s Champion of Character Team and the All-Academic Team for her work in the classroom. Gray was joined on the All-Academic team by teammate Megan Harris (SO/Worthville, Ky.).
The Union College volleyball team (27-9 overall on the year) finishes off pool play in the AAC Tournament on Thursday, taking on eighth-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan at the Marriott MeadowView Convention Center. First serve is set for 11:30 a.m.