CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Four Creighton University volleyball players were honored at the annual Missouri Valley Conference banquet held this morning. Megan Bober was named first-team all-conference, Alicia Runge and Laurel Sanford were both named second-team all-conference, and Julianne Mandolfo was named to the MVC's All-Freshman Team.
Bober, a setter from Murdock, Neb., was named first-team all-MVC after a standout sophomore season. She ranks fourth in the MVC in assists per set (10.22), 10th in blocks per set (0.90) and 12th in hitting percentage (.262). She is the nation's only player averaging more than 10.00 assists, 1.4 kills and 0.90 blocks per set.
Runge, a senior from Swea City, Iowa, ranks second in the MVC with 3.87 kills per set and third with 4.12 points per set. The outside hitter leads Creighton in kills by a wide margin.
Sanford, a junior from Eagan, Minn., ranks third in the MVC in blocks per set (1.08), 12th in hitting percentage (.262), 13th in points per set (3.26) and 18th in kills per set (2.52).
Mandolfo had a stellar debut season for the Bluejays. She set a Creighton freshman record with 463 digs and ranks sixth in the MVC with 4.53 digs per set and 20th with 0.19 aces per set.
Northern Iowa setter Bre Payton was named the league's Player of the Year for the second-straight season. Wichita State's Sarah McGee was tabbed the Valley's Defensive Player of the Year, and UNI's Ellie Blankenship was named the Libero of the Year. Missouri State's Christine McCartney earned the league's top rookie award, being tabbed Freshman of the Year.
UNI, along with Wichita State, Creighton and Missouri State, the league's top four finishers combined to place 14 athletes on the first- and second-team all-conference squads. The Panthers placed five players on the first team, the most in the league, while Wichita State earned four combined honors on the first and second team. Creighton, the tournament's No. 3 seed, totaled three players on the all-conference first and second teams.
Payton, one of the league's most well-rounded performers, runs the offense of the league's undefeated and nationally-ranked UNI Panthers. She ranks in the top-20 in the Valley in assists, aces and hitting percentage. She is a part of the nation's fifth-best team at dishing out assists and her Panthers rank second in the nation in kills per set. She is the only player in the Valley to register a triple-double in 2010, totaling five this season and 12 for her career, the most of any Panther in school history. Payton is the 10th player in UNI history to win the league's top honor.
McGee, a force at the net, is one of the league's most consistent attackers and is the league's top blocker. She leads the league in blocking with a 1.27 blocks per set average, and has registered 4.0 or more blocks in 18 matches this season. She recorded three or more blocks in 16 of 18 Valley matches and ranks fourth all-time in Wichita State history with 402 total blocks. She is the first Wichita State player to win the conference's Defensive Player of the Year honor.
Blankenship, one of the league's most consistent back row players, ranks second in the conference with 5.37 digs per set, helping the Panthers to the nation's ninth-best digs per set total. The senior libero owns the UNI record for career digs, totaling 2,573, which is more than a 1,000 digs higher than the second-place rank. Blankenship recorded 20 or more digs in 14 matches this season, including four matches with 30 or more digs, even though just 12 of UNI's matches went over the three-set mark. Her 2,573 career digs make her just the eighth player in Division I history to record over 2,500 career digs and currently ranks second among active players for career digs. She also holds the Missouri Valley Conference record for career digs. In 567 serve receive attempts, she has just 14 reception errors, tallying an impressive .975 percentage. She is the first UNI player to win the league's Libero of the Year honor.
McCartney, a force on the outside for the Missouri State Bears, ranks fourth in the league in kills per set. Her 3.37 kills per set average ranks second all-time among all freshmen in Missouri State history. Her 320 total kills this year rank fifth in school history among freshmen, and her career-high 21 kills at Drake was the third-highest freshman total in program history. She is the fifth Missouri State player to earn the conference's Freshman of the Year honor.
UNI's Bobbi Petersen has guided the Panthers to a 28-2 overall record and a perfect 18-0 record in Valley action for the second-straight season. UNI won its 14th regular-season title - finishing with an unblemished record in league play for the sixth time in program history. The Panthers enter the championship winners of 23-consecutive matches and as the No. 11 team in the latest AVCA poll. The Panthers won 54 of 61 sets in the conference, won 11 matches by a score of 3-0, and were not pushed to the fifth set in any league contest. They currently hold the nation's second-longest active league winning streak, having won 36-straight conference matches dating back to last season. Petersen has been named the Coach of the Year two times previously, having won last season and in 2006.