JMU Claims Two Major Awards, GMU’s ShaLi NIU Named Rookie of the Year
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – James Madison grabbed two of the three major awards to headline the 2018 Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) University Division Volleyball All-State Team. JMU junior M’Kaela White earned VaSID Player of the Year honors and the Dukes’ Lauren Steinbrecher was named VaSID Coach of the Year. George Mason freshman ShaLi Niu rounded out the individual awards with VaSID Rookie of the Year accolades. White is coming off an illustrious season after establishing herself as one of the top middle blockers in the country. The Riverdale, Md., native ranked sixth in the NCAA with 172 total blocks, setting a program record for most stops in a single season. White was selected to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) East Coast All-Region Team, All-Colonial Athletic Association First Team and CAA All-Tournament Team. She was also a three-time CAA Defensive Player of the Week. After guiding the Dukes to their three-straight 20-plus win season, Steinbrecher became the winningest coach in JMU history. The Dukes finished the regular season with a first-place finish in the CAA and led the team to the conference tournament finals. JMU began league play with a streak of nine-straight wins. At the end of the year, four of her players received All-CAA honors. She also helped White gain All-Region recognition.
Niu developed into one of the top offensive weapons for George Mason over the course of her rookie season. She was a two-time A-10 Rookie of the Week selection, before making the All-Rookie Team at the end of the regular season. The Laie, Hawaii, native ranked second on the team with 2.54 kills per set and 3.04 points per set. Niu also recorded three double-double performances and generated 10-plus kills on ten occasions. JMU claimed four spots on the All-State Team. Junior libero Sarah Driscoll joined her classmate White on the first team. Junior Sara Martin and senior Bryn Recker received second team nods. VCU landed a pair of players in senior Tori Baldwin and junior Jasmin Snead on the first team. Two Radford standouts were voted to the All-State Team following a National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) Sweet 16 appearance. Junior Mallory McKnight reaped first team honors, while senior Haley Kleespies was placed on second team. Virginia garnered a pair of second teamers in sophomore Sarah Billard and freshman Milla Ciprian. Virginia Tech gained an All-State selection as senior Jaila Tolbert earned first team praises. Liberty saw junior Casey Goodwin earn enough votes to make the second team. Hampton was also represented after junior Megann Delagdo earned first team approval, while George Mason senior Catie Espinoza snagged the second team libero slot. VaSID names 27 All-State teams in 15 sports each year, as well as an Academic All-State squad and an all-sports champion in both the University and College Divisions. Membership in VaSID is open to all media relation’s professionals working at a university or conference in the Commonwealth of Virginia.