Dearien Named to NAIA Third Team, Leads Trio of Players with AVCA Regional Honors
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For the first time since 2006, the John Brown women's volleyball team has an All-America third team honoree as senior Audrey Dearien was named to the list for the first time in her career, the national office announced this morning (Dec. 8).
Additionally, Dearien was joined by senior Libby Blasingame on the American Volleyball Coaches' Association All-Region first team list. Sophomore Alyssa Arnold earned All-Region honorable mention status as well.
A first-team honoree for a second-consecutive year, Dearien joins an elite group as one of only four players in program history to post multiple AVCA first-team honors in a career. Dearien is also the first player since Juliana Todescan in 2006, to land on one of the three NAIA All-America lists.
The Frisco, Texas, native led the Golden Eagles to a 22-15 overall record and a berth in the SAC tournament semifinals. Dearien posted team-bests in kills (430), attack attempts (1,123) and led the nation in service aces (86) and aces per set (.690). The outside hitter also finished the year ranked No. 46 in the nation in kills per set (3.47) and total terminations.
"Consistency; passionate pursuit of excellence; servant-leader; role-model; those are just a few words that come to mind when I think of Audrey and who she is and the impact she has had with our program and her teammates," admitted head coach Ken Carver. "In all of my years of coaching, I have only had two or three other players with the talents and abilities that Audrey has been blessed with. I believe she may be the first NAIA All-American I have had the privilege of coaching in my career, so I realize how unique this opportunity is for me and the JBU volleyball program.
"I am very proud of Audrey and all of the hard work she has given to her teammates, but even more proud of how she has continued to grow and mature as a player, a student-athlete and a young Christian woman. Her father shared with me last year after Audreys NAIA All-American Honorable Mention that as an incoming freshman, she looked at the Hall of Fame in the lobby of Bill George Arena and said that by the time her career was over, she wanted to be the next addition to the wall. While I am proud of her accomplishing this goal, I am more proud of her that in her pursuit of it, she didnt make it all about her. In fact, to her credit and as an illustration of her growth and maturity, she didnt talk about it, nor make it a major focus of her senior season. She focused on being a senior captain who looked to empower, encourage and serve a team that consisted of seven new players and a roster with nine freshmen or sophomore players. In looking to serve others and help bring our younger players along, she ultimately achieved an honor that few players have the opportunity to receive.
"Her All-America plaque will hang in the lobby for years to come, an honor she richly deserves. Beyond being an inspiration and impact on her past and current JBU teammates, I sincerely hope she will inspire the next future NAIA All-American that will one day be a part of the JBU volleyball family and legacy. This honor serves to validate not only an excellent senior season, but a four-year career of one of JBUs best volleyball players in the programs history."
Joining Dearien on the AVCA All-Region first team, Blasingame posted a career-best season in 2015. The middle blocker broke out for 311 kills, a .321 hitting percentage and 109 total blocks. Her kill output was good enough for 10th-best in the conference while her triple-digit rejection total ranked second overall in the SAC.
Garnering All-Region honorable mention, Arnold filled an unexpected role and orchestrated JBU's 5-1 offense to the tune of 1,305 assists, notching 35 helpers or more 18 times in 2015. The setter finished the season ranked No. 24 in the nation and second overall in the conference in total assists and also held the No. 37 spot nationally and the third slot in the SAC in assists per set (9.60).
"I am very proud of the fact that we were able to have three of our players honored as AVCA All-Region honorees," added Carver. "I knew we stood a good chance of having Audrey and Libby earn this recognition given their respective performance during the course of the season, but I was pleasantly surprised Alyssa was also able to be included in this group as well, not because of her performance this season, but its pretty rare for a conferences award winners to move on to the next level of recognition unless they are a member of the first team. The performance of all three of these players throughout this past season was consistently high and were big reasons why we were able to have the success we had on the court.
"For Audrey and Libby, these awards are capstones to great four-year careers at JBU. Alyssa stepped up for our team when we found ourselves with only one setter to start the season and did a fantastic job running our offense all year. With her as our only setter, she truly showcased the impact she can have, not only on our own team but within our conference as well. While it takes more than just these three players for a team to have success on the court, these three had a tremendous amount of influence. While each of them are being honored for their statistically-related performance and success from this past season, I am equally proud of the character and leadership that these three young women modeled and provided to their teammates during the course of the season."