Dearien, Blasingame Headline Five Players Named to All-Conference Teams

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OKLHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Seniors Audrey Dearien and Libby Blasingame have been named to the annual All-Sooner Athletic First Team and are joined by three others on the second and honorable mention squads, conference offices announced this afternoon (Nov. 16).

Sophomore Alyssa Arnold and junior Molli Pugh earned Second Team honors while sophomore Beth Brankle made an appearance on the Honorable Mention team.

“I am very happy for the five players who were recognized by the SAC coaches as deserving of All-Conference recognition for their performances during the course of the season,” said head coach Ken Carver. “For Audrey and Libby, their First Team selection is a richly deserved capstone on their respective four year volleyball career. Audrey followed up an outstanding junior campaign with an equally impressive senior season. Our opponents were always looking to find ways to stop or limit Audreys output for our team, so for her to continue to put up such high numbers speaks to how special of a player she is and as a competitor she found other ways to still be a dominant presence on the court for our team this season.

“Libby was a dual-threat for our team this season. She was a very efficient attacker and led our team in attack efficiency. In addition to her offensive output, Libby was our strongest blocker and led our teams front-line defensive unit.”

Dearien makes her fourth appearance on the All-Conference list and third appearance on the First Team. The outside hitter finished her collegiate career by leading the nation in both aces per set (.690) and total aces (86). Along with leading the team in kills and kills per set, Dearien also finished the year ranked No. 36 nationally in kills and No. 46 in kills per set. Beyond leading John Brown on offense, she set career highs in digs (374), attack percentage (.246) and points per set (4.44). The senior closes her career with 1,536 kills, 4,182 attack attempts, 221 service aces, 1,217 digs and 203 total blocks.

Blasingame makes her first showing on the First Team, following up a junior campaign that saw her take home Second Team honors. The middle blocker led the Golden Eagles in 2015 with 109 total rejections, including 30 solo blocks and 79 block-assists. She also terminated 311 balls, second on the squad, and hit at a .321 attack percentage and was ranked No. 32 in the nation. Blasingame finished her collegiate career with 876 kills on 2,369 attack attempts while racking up 66 solo blocks and 321 block-assists (387 total blocks).

“Molli followed up a good sophomore campaign with an even better junior season,” Carver added. “Molli was the other half of our middle hitter and blocker combination alongside Libby. She is going to be one of our seniors next year and I know she will do a great job of being a leaders of our team this upcoming offseason and will be working hard to continue to refine her game for her last year.

“I am also very proud of the performance Alyssa gave during the course of our season. There was a lot of weight on her shoulders to run our offensive system as the only setter on our squad. She showed tremendous determination and maturity beyond her second-year status and did an excellent job in helping our team succeed offensively. I wish we had a few more slots on the first team because Alyssas performance definitely merited that level of consideration.”

Pugh lands All-Conference honors for the third-straight season and collects her second-career Second Team honors after a stellar freshman campaign. The middle hitter established new career highs in kills (277), kills per set (2.13), aces (18), attack efficiency (.295 percent) and points per game (2.62). She also added 11 solo rejections and 70 block-assists to total 81 blocks, second-most on the squad. Pugh set a career-high with 17 kills against Southwestern Christian (Okla.) on Oct. 29 and nine total blocks against Texas Wesleyan on Oct. 24.

Arnold excelled in her first season as full-time setter, launching 1,305 assists on the season, the most of any Sooner Athletic setter. She also averaged 9.6 assists per set, good enough for third in the conference, and finished ranked No. 12 nationally in total assists and No. 37 in assists per set. She established a new career-high with 58 assists against Wayland Baptist (Texas) on Sept. 19 and eclipsed the 30-assist mark 28 times this season, including 11 matches with 40 or more helpers. Additionally, Arnold added career high numbers in kills (25), aces (39) and total blocks (30).

“I was happy that Beth was able to earn some much-deserved recognition for her performance this season,” noted Carver. “While the weekly conference honors continuously went to the liberos of the top three teams of the conference, Beth continued to put up equally impressive efforts night in and out. Beth worked extremely hard during the offseason to come prepared this year. She played at a whole other level this season and did a great job anchoring our back-row defense and serve-receive.”

Brankles Honorable Mention nomination is the first of her career and is highlighted by career numbers in aces (34) and passing efficiency (.924 percent). Brankle led the Golden Eagles in digs (577) and digs per set (4.24) and finished the 2015 campaign ranked No. 47 in the nation in total digs. She set a single-match career high with 35 digs against Ozarks (Mo.) on Oct. 31 and dug over 20 balls nine times on the year. Helping Arnold when needed, Brankle passed out 78 assists on the year.

“I am very proud of the accomplishments of these young ladies as well as their teammates who helped them achieve this special honor and recognition from the SAC coaches,” Carver said. “Audrey and Libbys honors cap great four-year careers as members of our Golden Eagle volleyball family and the performances of Molli, Alyssa and Beth show the future continues to look bright for our program moving forward into next year.”

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